Corticosteroid Joint Injections for Horses With Arthritis: Friend or Foe?

One veterinarian says that, while we can’t lump all corticosteroids into one category, injections should still be considered a mainstay of treatment of intra-articular inflammation. Here’s why.
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corticosteroid joint injections for horses
In one survey, 85% of responding veterinarians used IA corticosteroids to manage chronic joint inflammation; 75% used them in horses with radiographic evidence of OA, and ||70% used them to treat acute joint pain. | Photo: Alexandra Beckstett/The Horse

Veterinarians have relied on intra-articular (IA, administered into the joint) corticosteroids to manage osteoarthritis (OA) in horses for more than 60 years. They have both anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects and are fairly inexpensive, making them OA’s current gold standard treatment, said Jonathan D.C. Anderson, BVM&S, Dipl. ACVS, MRCVS, equine surgery specialist at Rainbow Equine Hospital, in North Yorkshire, U.K.

However, their use has been blamed for several complications, including laminitis and septic arthritis. So Anderson explored whether they should remain the gold standard OA treatment during the 2018 British Equine Veterinary Association Congress, held Sept. 12-15, in Birmingham, U.K.

How They’re Used

Intra-articular corticosteroid use in horses with joint issues is prevalent

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Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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