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Tendon Injury Rehabilitation

It is possible for your horse to come back from a tendon injury with time and tailored rehabilitation.

Question:

My 17-year-old Quarter horse mare bowed the tendon low in her right hind leg in May.

Our vet completed a sonogram which revealed an already healing lesion. She has been confined to a small turnout area and separated from the other two horses for the last five months. There is some swelling at the fetlock joint, but the leg has never been hot. We applied liniment and polo wraps for four weeks. She is showing improvement, especially in the last three weeks with being turned out in a small area to graze alone. My vet has suggested re-evaluating in December and proceed from there.

Are there any other suggestions, supplements, treatments we may have missed? 

For the answer, we sought advice from the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

Answer:

Tendon injuries can be frustrating because they take a long time to heal, may or may not resolve ultrasonographically and may carry the risk of re-injury for a significant time after the original injury.

There are a few therapies that are used to try to increase healing and decrease the length of time needed to return to work, but there is really no safe way to rush a tendon injury. Your veterinarian can discuss with you whether your mare is a good candidate for treatments such as stem cell therapy and extracorporeal shock wave therapy.

Stem cell therapy can sometimes be a great healing tool. Learn all about the process, the use and future of stem cells and more in AQHA's FREE "Equine Stem-Cell Therapy" report.

Supplements are available that claim to support tendon and ligament health, and certainly some supplements, such as antioxidants, support the general health of the animal, but supplements are not a substitute for proper veterinary care. Some of these injuries respond best to conservative therapy, such as time off and then slow return to work, with or withoutnonsteroidal anti-inflammatories. Your veterinarian will be best able to determine the best course for your mare.

--Dr. Rebecca Linke in conjunction with AQHA Alliance Partner American Association of Equine Practitioners.