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Treatment for Equine Arthritis

Arthritis is one of the most common problems encountered by both our equine athletes and our expanding population of elderly horses. As such, it is a condition that has spawned a large variety of treatments, with new discoveries being made every day. These treatments range from oral supplements to powerful new injectable medications, which can greatly decrease the pain and progression of this disease.

Inflammation of a joint is the simple definition of arthritis. Therefore one goal of arthritis treatment is to try and stop the inflammation. However, this definition only scratches the surface of a very complex disease.   Another part of the problem is the destruction of joint cartilage, the material that serves as a shock absorber and helps two bones to glide past each other in a joint. Today’s article will look at how your veterinarian can help with the treatment and management of this disease.

Arthritis treatments can be divided into 2 categories: nutritional supplements and prescription medications. Nutritional supplements are not drugs but are over the counter products that are fed to horses in an attempt to promote joint health. The most common examples of these products include glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate. These substances are part of the building blocks of healthy joint cartilage. The theory behind their use is to supplement the building materials needed to help the body replace damaged cartilage with normal cartilage. Unfortuneately there is very little research on these products. What is known is that these products do seem to decrease mild to moderate symptoms of arthritis, but not more severe forms of arthritis. They are also slow to take effect. Often taking up to a month before clinical signs improve. In addition, because these supplements are not drugs there is no oversight over how they are manufactured. This means that the supplement may or may not contain the ingredients stated or the amounts stated on the label. In fact, a recent study of human nutritional supplements found anywhere from 0% to 125% of label ingredients. Because you have no way of knowing what you are getting it is best to go with a well known joint supplement. Your veterinarian may have a recommendation of a particular product that he or she has found to be effective.

Under the category of prescription arthritis treatments are the two compounds hyaluronan and polysulfated glycosaminoglycans. These drugs are best known under the brand names Legend and Adequan. Hyaluronan also know as sodium hyaluronate and hyaluronic acid add strength to cartilage and have an anti-inflammatory effect in the joint. This medication seems to work best when the soft tissue of the joint is inflamed.   Polysulfated glycosaminoglycans


Castlewood Canyon Equine - Quality Horse Veternarian Services for Franktown CO, Elizabeth, Parker and the surrounding areas.

1115 Castlewood Canyon Road
Franktown, CO 80116
(303) 660-1492

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