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365 Days in Horse Country – Arthritis

Blog by Michael Stuart Webb | November 6th, 2013

365 Days in Horse Country – Arthritis


Arthritis I a common problem in horses, and not just old ones.  Even youngsters can develop this issue if they are genetically  predisposed to it.

Arthritis is often the culprit in lameness in horses.  This inflammation of the joints results in pain and stiffness.  The knees, hocks, and fetlocks are the most often affected joints, and the condition worsens over time.

Arthritis can be seen in four different types: degenerative joint disease, septic joint disease, immune-mediated arthritis, and traumatic arthritis.

Degenerative joint disease is by far the most common type of arthritis seen in horses.  The hocks are the joints most often affected, with the fetlocks a close second, and the stifles third.

Symptoms include chronic stiffness, swelling around the joint, and difficulty performing.  Treatments for this type of arthritis are aimed at reducing swelling at the joint.  Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, and nutraceuticals are often prescribed.

Horses with arthritis do best when given daily exercise.  Nothing is worse for an arthritic horse than standing around in a stall all day.  A hand-walk for thirty minutes a day can do wonders to get an arthritic horse’s joints loosened up and make your horse feel better.  Pastures are even better for these since they can exercise at will and keep themselves limber.