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Curing the Ailing Joints

Whether claiming to be a cure for arthritis or a panacea for ailing equine joints, the number of tinctures and gadgets advertised to horse owners is staggering. While some of them undoubtedly work, others do more harm than good in simply masking the symptoms of a real problem, such as the pain the animal experiences, rather than addressing the root cause of the inflammation.

Hurting joints are naturally compensated for by the animal in that it chooses to have the other joints pick up some of the slack to take the weight off the painful limb. The animal seeks to rest its hurting joint, and rest truly is the one thing that will help it to heal better than anything else. If the joint fails to receive the rest it needs, it will actually grow worse over time, and will eventually also adversely affect the immune system which will supply more and more blood to the hurting area. Visible inflammation and also swelling are the result of the body’s attempt to heal itself.

Joints may hurt for a variety of reasons; there is the force of blunt trauma that will cause pain; perhaps there is the normal wear and tear that leads to a breakdown of the limb; degenerative effects of a roughening of the previously smooth cartilage lead to a lack of synovial fluid or connective tissue. The number of possibilities is endless, yet there are many drugs that will help you to take care of the pain the animal feels quickly. As a result, the inflammation is stopped and swelling is reduced. Steroids are often used in this approach. Yet it is noteworthy that the very injections that take away the pain also cause a more rapid deterioration of the joints. By adversely affecting the healing mechanism of the tissue itself, and also by eliminating the pain response, the joints are not rested optimally and thus the joint is too quickly weighed down again. The same may be said for the herbal remedies that work as painkillers, in spite of the many claims their manufactures may make.

The one surefire way to help the joint as well as the animal’s pain response is with the help of nutrition. By actually introducing into the animal’s system the very nutrients it needs to cause a healing of the affected joint, and by allowing the pain response to protect the joint from being overly weighed down, you will be able to help your animal heal faster than with other means. Proponents of the nutritional approach claim that a multitude of joint problems can thusly be addressed, and surgery will become a treatment of the last resort when cartilage is in the need of removal, or reconnection of support structures are sought.

While proper nutrition is important, some nutritional supplements will also be needed to help the healing of connective tissues. The goal is to protect the outside of the animals as well as the inside, and the latter can be achieved by introducing a proper supplementation regimen to your horse’s daily routine. It does not really matter how old your horse is, as animals of all ages can greatly benefit from the proper supplementation. Yet it is the older horse that will show greater benefits from this kind of treatment simply because older joints wear out a lot faster than those of young animals.

Take for example the strides medicine made about half a century ago when it was proven that the consumption of connective tissue could relieve arthritis. Thus, people began to ingest shark cartilage and also gelatin and many arthritic problems were negated. Later research pointed to chondroitin sulfates as being the substance that provided the helpful effects. Further tests showed that glucosamine sulphate is actually the very building block of connective tissue that is at the root of the positive effects experienced. While chondroitin sulfates are hard for the body to digest and thus the benefits are rarely realized when taken orally, glucosamine sulphate is much easier on the body and works well.

Of course, there are a number of different types of glucosamine sulphate found in nutritional supplements; N-acetyl-glucosamine is proven not to experience any gut uptake; Glucosamine HCI is questionable at best – it needs to shed the HCI and a sulphate needs to be introduced for it to have any effectiveness. Thus it is only glucosamine sulphate that has thus far been proven to be effective. Oral doses are shows to have an affect within 30 minutes of administration, and within four hours the joint cells have been shown to take these nutrients from the blood.

Thus the lesson is clear: do your homework before you believe the sometimes outlandish claims on the back of a supplement bottle; do not fall for the buzz of the latest miracle drug but instead follow scientific study when purchasing supplements and do not simply content yourself with masking the pain but instead help your horse’s joints to heal.

Read the next horse health tips article on Liniments and balms.
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