Early Detection of Osteoarthritis in Equine

Friday, January 24, 2020 - 5:30pm

Are you witnessing your 12-year old horse walk out of the stall stiff as a board or lacking in performance? Unfortunately, just as humans have age anomalies equine do too. It's important to consider the early signs of osteoarthritis (OA). Ensuring your horse receives the proper care during the early stages can help keep your horse tuned up, comfortable and happy for years to come.

Osteoarthritis is defined as inflammation of the joint, a disease that results in degradation of the articular cartilage, and can turn into bone changes in the subchondral bone in chronic long-term cases.

Suzan Oakley, DVM, Dipl. ACVSMR, ABVP, and Anne Moretta, VMD, MS, CVA, CVSMT, who work in private practice together at Wellington Equine Sports Medicine, in Florida, share their suggestions for keeping this disease from progressing.

Osteoarthritis is found in sport horses and will develop in various joints. “The majority of cases occur in limb joints that are used for propulsion or are subjected to more concussive weight-bearing,” she says. “The horse’s occupation (dressage, jumping, etc.) play a role in the location and type of biomechanical loading and repeated stress the joints will have over time.”

Signs to consider:
• Stiffness that might improve with work
• Reduced range of motion of joints
• Heat and swelling
• Behavioral changes
• Change in posture

It’s important not to mistake a horses' limitation of athletic ability as poor performance but could potentially be recognized as early lameness,” Moretta says.

Early diagnosis of movements or muscle changes to dictate treatment and help prevent long-term and potentially career-ending lameness down the road is crucial. Therefore, be sure to have a veterinarian examine your horse if something doesn’t seem right. This is imperative to ensure your horse has the proper care and treatment plan from an early detection of Osteoarthritis.

This article was curated from The Horse, read more here.

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