Ancient Horses Had Arthritis, Too

Researchers recently found and studied severe arthritis in an 11th-century horse’s front left pastern joint.
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Researchers believe, that in the first phase of disease, the horse this arthritic pastern bone (from the front, above, and from the side, below) came from was progressively lame due to pain. But later, due to joint fusion, the lameness resulted from anatomical dysfunction. | Photos: Courtesy Dr. Aleksandra Skalec

You know you can find arthritis in most older horses’ joints. But did you know you can find it in ancient horses’ joints, as well? Researchers recently discovered osteoarthritis in a medieval horse’s pastern joint.

“We believe, that in the first phase of disease, the horse was progressively lame, but later, due to ankylosis (fusion) of the joint, the lameness in the second phase was not a result of pain but of anatomical dysfunction,” said Aleksandra Skalec, PhD candidate in the Division of Anatomy in the Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences Department of Animal Physiology and Biostructure, in Poland.

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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