Horse Tendon and Ligament Mineralization: Cause for Concern?

Tendons and ligaments are meant stretch and flex. So it must be bad news when hard material forms within them, right? Not necessarily, researchers say.
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horse tendon and ligament mineralization
Because mineralization is not invariably a contributor to lameness, O’Brien encouraged practitioners to keep an open mind and look for other potentially lameness-causing lesions, as well. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

Tendons and ligaments are meant to be soft tissues. They’re meant to stretch and they’re meant to flex. Sometimes, however, they essentially harden—this horse tendon and ligament mineralization occurs when hard material forms within the structure. This must be bad news, right? Not necessarily, researchers say.

“Our study has shown that mineralization can be present and not cause lameness,” said Etienne O’Brien, BVM&S, Cert VA, Cert EP, PhD, MVM, MRCVS, of the University of London’s Royal Veterinary College, in the U.K.

And, when there’s both lameness and mineralization, it doesn’t mean the mineralization is causing the lameness or is the only cause. “We cannot ever know with certainty whether the mineralization is contributing to lameness solely or along with other injuries in the same area,” O’Brien said

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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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