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What prevention steps can I take for my horse’s rear leg swelling after exercise?
By Jean-Yin Tan, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM | Mar 28, 2018
Q. My 3-year-old mare’s rear legs swell around the tendon and fetlock area overnight after exercise. She is not lame or sore, but I have dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO)/furacin (nitrofurazone) wrapped it when it swells. This worked the first time but now it just helps a little. Is this swelling common, what it could be, and are there any prevention steps I could take?
Madison Rostykus, via e-mail
A. Fluid-filled swellings in the rear aspect of the tendon/fetlock area—called “windpuffs,” or synovial effusion of the tendon sheath—are a common condition in horses. They result from inflammation of the digital flexor tendon sheath, the structure that encases the deep and superficial digital tendons that run from the back of the knee down to the fetlock.
There are two types of windpuffs: idiopathic (of unknown cause, but they do not cause any problems) and pathologic (caused by disease).
Horses most frequently develop idiopathic windpuffs, especially when swelling is evident on both sides of the tendon and bilaterally symmetrical in both hind limbs. Idiopathic windpuffs tend to be chronic and can be worse in horses with anatomical predispositions, such as club foot, and after exercise, due to stress placed on the tendons. Lameness is not a component of idiopathic windpuffs, and this condition is not associated with -disease...
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