Thursday, October 30, 2014

Developing the Sport Horse Part 3 – LEGS! Common injuries and how we can treat them - Full Article

October 2014
Story by: Dr. Brianne Henderson

Every year riders are plagued with limb injuries to their equine partners. Sometimes this is a small blip in the training schedule, other times it spells the end of a competitive season. In this article we are going to highlight some common injuries and different modalities that can help your horse onto the road to recovery (and a few preventative tips!). At the end of the article, there is a table outlining different treatments to help manage the injuries discussed.

The Suspensory Ligament

The Suspensory Ligament (SL) is effectively a broad elastic cable that runs from the back of the knee down the back of the canon bone and then branches to cradle the fetlock joint. Its purpose is to suspend the fetlock joint and prevent over extension during loading. Essentially, it works like a spring mechanism to absorb the energy as it stretches and then recoils to lift the fetlock back to its normal position.

Over time, micro-damage occurs within the fibres of the ligament and due to the poor blood supply, these micro-tears are more likely to accumulate than heal. Often this is why we see repetitive strain injuries/inflammation to the SL. The impact of foot balance is critical to the health of the SL. A foot with long toe/low heel places increased strain on structures within the foot (navicular bone), the Deep Digital Flexor Tendon and the Suspensory ligament by predisposing to a “toe first” landing. Instead of allowing a gradual absorption of impact through the structures of the heels and up the limb, this movement creates a snapping action on the DDFT and Suspensory ligament. The long-term effect of foot imbalance is associated with chronic heel pain (“toe first”) and also chronic proximal suspensory desmitis. Veterinary Treatment options may include? Shockwave therapy, biological injections...

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