Equine athletes place tremendous strain on their joints. Inflamed and painful joints can cause problems before obvious lameness issues develop. Lameness causes the horse to alter his movement patterns, which can result in compensatory injuries. In performance horses, the first sign of pain may be “training issues” such as reluctance to change leads, collect or turn around a barrel.
Intra-articular Therapy (Joint Injections)
Symptoms of an inflamed joint may include increased synovial fluid, a positive response to palpation and flexion, mild lameness or decreased performance. An accurate diagnosis is essential for effective treatment. Only joints that have problems should be treated with intra-articular injections and response to therapy should always be assessed.
Targeted intra-articular therapy is the most effective way to treat an inflamed joint. The goals of this therapy are to:
- Reduce inflammation in the joint and decrease harmful inflammatory mediators that can damage the articular cartilage.
- Return the horse to pain-free performance.
- Help prevent altered movement caused by joint pain.
Parenteral Therapies (IV or IM)
Osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease) affects horses of all breeds and disciplines. AdequanTM and LegendTM are FDA approved products that have been shown to be disease modifying osteoarthritis drugs (DMOADs). They have a role in protecting your horse’s joint health by inhibiting structural disease progression. They have clinical research behind them showing both safety and efficacy for their intended use.
Joint supplements may have a role in maintaining joint health. It is important to use a product manufactured in accordance with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) to ensure potency of the product. It is also advisable to use a product supported by clinical research, as there is no regulation of oral supplements.