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Joey's Diagnosis .......Equine Osteoarthritis

Sunday, October 21, 2018  ‹ Back To Latest News List

Joey’s Diagnosis: Equine Osteoarthritis… By Siobhan Taylor SyncEquine Technician

Earlier this year my horse Joey, was presenting with bilateral forelimb lameness. Following investigations, he was diagnosed with osteoarthritis (OA) in the distal interphalangeal joints (coffin joints) of both his forelimbs. 

He was subsequently treated with intra articular corticosteroids and significant improvement was clearly seen.

However, I wanted to research more about the disease to better understand the treatments and management options currently available. 

OA, also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD) is the leading cause of equine lameness. It is the progressive degeneration of the joint and its surrounding tissues, causing inflammation, pain and therefore resulting in lameness. 

Often associated with old age, however OA has been linked with several factors including trauma to the joint, immobilisation, conformation and shoeing. 

Currently diagnosed late into the disease process, where irreversible damage has already occurred. 

This provides an example of where the use of physiological imaging (commonly referred to as thermography)can be a great tool to assist and help guide an investigation. As this technology looks at function, unlike other imaging modalities such as ultrasound and x-ray which primarily look at structure.  It enables detection of increased cellular activity which can be a clear indicator of early stage pathology, as owners often notice subtle changes in their horse’s gait or report a behavioural problem before clinical signs of lameness occur. 

There are many treatments and management options available for OA, some of which I was unaware of. So, I have compiled a list to highlight just a few of the many options available! 

  • Intra articular Corticosteroids
  • Intra articular Hyaluronic Acid (HA) 
  • Intra articular Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)  
  • Autologous Conditioned Serum (ACS) (This can also be used for synovitis or OA when corticosteroids have failed.)
  • Stem Cell Therapy 
  • Polysulfated Glycosaminoglycans (PSGAG’s)/ Pentosan Polysulphate 
  • Surgical Arthode (fusing of joint) 
  • Nutraceuticals

*Please contact your vet for further advice as they will be able to recommend the most suitable treatment for your horse.

I’m pleased to say that Joey has returned to ridden work following his treatment of intra-articular corticosteroids. To help support his joints I will also be starting him on a nutraceutical and will be having regular visits from the physiotherapist to help maintain his mobility and will be able to monitor his joints using physiological imaging.