Ask the Vet: Laminitis and Other Orthopedic Diseases

Question: I have a 14-year-old Standardbred that had surgery on his knees when he was younger. Is it possible that he will get arthritis in his knees when he gets older? If so, what are some simple ways to try and prevent it or keep it at a minimum? Would paddock boots work at all?

Answer: It is possible for him to get arthritis from having surgery on his knees if it was from ‘chips’ being removed or osteochondral fragments from OCD lesions (formed developmentally), however we usually remove the fragments to prevent ongoing arthritis. If they were removed because of damage during racing, it depends on how much damage occurred at the time of injury and how long the horse waited to have surgery as to whether they will develop arthritis.

There are many preventative techniques out there such as intravenous Legend or it’s new generic, intramuscular Adequan or Pentosan, and oral joint supplements, which are more for supportive care of daily wear and tear. The most effective form of prevention is a therapy called IRAP, which is a protein produced from the horse when processed overnight, incubated and the serum collected. The IRAP is then injected into the joint over 3-4 doses every 1-2 weeks (depending on your vet’s preference). IRAP blocks the main inflammatory mediator IL-1, so it slows or stops the inflammatory cycle within the joint.

Question: What are the pink splotches just below the coronet band on my paint horse\’s rear hooves. Yes both hoof walls have them. One is streaked horizontally , and the othe hoof is more of a splot.

Answer: Most likely, the pink splotches that you notice are bruising within the hoof wall. These frequently appear on horses who have thinner hoof walls, horses with selenium deficiency or simply, horses with white feet.

Question: My 10-year-old gelding was diagnosed with high ringbone last year. I rested him, gave him supplements and special shoeing. He was sound to ride lightly last fall. Unfortunately, this spring he limped after running around the pasture when a horse pal left our farm. Is there any long term hope for this horse to recover?

Answer: High ringbone can be very frustrating to deal with over the years. Depending on how the joint looks on radiographs, there are a few options. If your horse is in the early stages of ringbone (arthritis), you can try doing joint injections to relieve the pain and inflammation – IRAP would be the best way to slow the progression of arthritis, but you could also try a triamcinolone/Hyaluronic acid combination.

Unfortunately the only way to permanently decrease pain/lameness is to have a pastern arthrodesis performed, which is when the joint is fused surgically with a plate and screws.

Courtesy of AAEP