Nouvelleresearch.com - Full Article
Tom Schell, D.V.M.
Nouvelle Research, Inc.
Stocking up is a familiar term to many horse owners and often is used to refer to a horse that exhibits leg swelling. The exact cause of the swelling can be variable and with this, so can the prescribed treatment course. The more we understand, often the better we can assist these patients, but it is a complicated problem in the equine industry.
One of the most common scenarios amongst horse owners is to have a horse that stocks up or swells up in one or more legs, especially after stall rest or even one night of confinement. Terms including lymphedema, lymphangitis, cellulitus are commonly used, having similar clinical findiings but different origins. We have many remedies for these situaitons, but often the problem persists despite, coming and going with moderate variability. In order to understand the problem, we must have a deeper look at anatomy and physiology.
Blood travels to the horse's limbs via arteries, delivering oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, then returns back to the heart via veins. The blood in the arteries is under pressure, which is determined by the heart rate, vascular resistance of the blood vessel and blood fluid volume. This pressure drops once the blood begins to return to the heart in the veins. Given the lack of significant pressure to assist the flow back to the heart, it is generally accepted that movement and pressure within the equine foot, actually serves as a heart, helping to pump the blood back up the leg. Horses are often referred to as having 5 hearts, implying a true heart in the chest and one heart per foot...
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