Researchers Test Gel-Based Arthritis Treatment for Horses

Intra-articular (administered into the joint) polyacrylamide hydrogel helped decreased lameness in horses with naturally occurring arthritis, researchers found.
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arthritis treatments for horses
Intra-articular polyacrylamide hydrogel helped decreased lameness in horses with naturally occurring arthritis, researchers found. | Photo: The Horse Staff
There’s no cure for equine osteoarthritis (OA), which is one of the most common causes of lameness in horses, so veterinarians must manage associated pain and clinical signs. Management can be challenging, but one researcher recently determined that a new synthetic joint lubricant has promise as a treatment approach

Scott McClure, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, ACVSMR, owner of Midwest Equine Surgery & Sports Medicine, in Boone, Iowa, and colleagues recently evaluated the polyacrylamide hydrogel product in two studies, and he presented their results at the 2018 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 1-5 in San Francisco, California.

Polyacrylamide hydrogel is a nondegradable synthetic viscous gel that has been shown to decrease knee OA symptoms in human patients. There’s less research in horses, so McClure and team set out to evaluate the 4% polyacrylamide hydrogel (available in the U.S. as Noltrex Vet, he said). In one study they evaluated the gel’s clinical, histologic (tissue structure), and metabolic effects in six healthy horses’ fetlock joints. They evaluated synovial fluid seven, 28, and 56 days following intra-articular (IA, in the joint) gel injection and analyzed cartilage and synovial membrane samples under a microscope.

McClure said the polyacrylamide was visible on the synovial membrane (joint capsule lining) seven days post-administration, and it was present between cells of the synovial membrane at Days 28 and 56. Further, they found no adverse effects following IA administration

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Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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