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Helping Your Horse Deal with Arthritis with Proper Treatment

Arthritis is not just a painful condition for people, but it also affects horses. The good news is that there is a myriad of treatments available that can help an affected animal, yet which will apply to your horse in particular depends on the severity of the damage.

You will need to consider if a treatment should be used to mitigate soft tissue inflammation and also pain, or if you are looking to restore the kind of joint fluid that is considered normal. Additionally, you will need to ascertain if you are seeking to prevent or slow down the disintegration of the cartilage. Generally speaking, quite frequently you will find that a combination of treatment methods will yield the best results.
If your horse is suffering the early symptoms of arthritis and the cartilage has not yet been damaged, then you will be able to accomplish a lot of good by allowing the animal to rest (anywhere from a few days to a few months), receive anti-inflammatories injected into the muscles or the affected joint, and also pursue physical therapy, such as ice or heat treatments. Your veterinarian will be able to recommend the best course of action depending on the animals’ medical history and its usual exercise regimen.

Should your vet suggest the injection of anti-inflammatories, it is important to remember that they help with lameness as well as chronic degenerative joint disease. Yet in spite of their effectiveness, they will do little good when it comes to eradicating the enzymes that are already wreaking havoc inside the horse’s joints; nonetheless, their pain relieving properties make them very popular for horse owners. If your horse suffers from an advanced case of arthritis, your veterinarian may suggest injecting steroids into the affected joint, which will quickly reduce the inflammation and pain.

In addition to all the pain management it is always advisable to also work on rebuilding the cartilage where possible, and to this end there are several compounds that serve to not only protect the cartilage that is still there, but to also rebuild it. What causes a lot of the destruction is the presence of damaging enzymes which can be controlled with either intravenous or topical applications. The advantage of the intravenous injection rests on the fact that several affected joints can be treated at the same time, rather than having to inject substances into each joint separately.

One last word on glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate: veterinarians are undecided whether this substance will work well for horses. Long since a staple in the medicine cabinets of humans, horse owners have begun to treat their animals with this substance and have achieved mixed results. Once again, consult with your veterinarian to find the best possible treatment for your horse.

Read the next horse diseases article on Botulism.
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