Arthritis in Horses
"I have a 25-year-old who has arthritis in his joints and also has Cushing’s. I noticed his back legs were quite swollen in the mornings, but as soon as I started putting the EQU StreamZ bands on the swelling disappeared. I can’t believe the difference they have made to him and he’s definitely got a spring back in his step!..."
"I bought a pair of the EQU StreamZ bands in the hope that they would ease my arthritic 35-year-old. Within a week George was galloping and rearing like a 5-year-old! He used to be on anti-inflammatories every other day, now he has one a week and only in the winter. They have given him a new lease of life!..."
"I use these on my 16-year-old mare who suffers from hock arthritis and lymphangitis. The results using these bands have been really good. Her legs don’t swell overnight anymore and she is much more mobile and comfortable..."
"Back in the Summer, I purchased the Streamz bands for my 18-year-old Welsh D, who had been diagnosed with arthritis in her fetlock and pastern joints in both forelegs…. She wears them 24/7 and it’s changed our lives! I cannot recommend these bands enough!..."
"Since wearing your fetlock bands, my 22-year-old arthritic gelding has found a new lease of life! He’s gone from being retired to hacking out four times a week and fully fit! Thank you for giving me my horse back!..."
"I was recommended to use these on my 14-year-old warmblood who has in the past suffered from stiffness, was ‘tight in the back’ and also has slight arthritic changes in his hocks. After using them for a fortnight both my trainer and I noticed how much looser, softer and more supple Todd was. Thank you StreamZ!..."
"OMG, this product is worth every penny! My 22 year old boy has arthritis of the coxofermal joint. He has only had his bands on for one week and the improvement is clearly visible. I had to look twice and check I wasn't looking at another horse! I am definitely buying the human band for member of family. Well done EQU StreamZ, we love them!" -
What is arthritis?
The word arthritis is used to describe pain, swelling and stiffness in a joint or joints. Arthritis isn’t a single condition and there are several different types. Arthritis can also be described as an inflammation of the joints; whether it be in humans, dogs or horses.
What is arthritis in horses?
The word arthritis is used to describe pain, swelling and stiffness in a joint or joints. Arthritis isn’t a single condition and there are several different types. It can also be described as ‘inflammation of the joints’; whether it be in humans, dogs or horses.
The most common types of arthritic pain found in horses are:
Osteoarthritis (OA) or degenerative joint disease (DJD), is a degenerative or “wear and tear” arthritis; this often affects horses as they get older and in particular horses who have led an active lifestyle. This often creates lameness in horses.
Rheumatoid (RA) which is an autoimmune disease that attacks the joints. The body mistakes its own protein for foreign protein and tries to eliminate them, usually degrading the cartilage. This also creates lameness at varying levels. While rheumatoid arthritis is not often diagnosed in horses, a very similar inflammatory process has been seen in many cases, which includes joint swelling and synovial membrane irritation.
Traumatic arthritis (TA)
Traumatic arthritis (TA) which is caused by excessive/abnormal use or by an acute injury. Any movement, irregular conformation or traumatic injury that affects the usage of the joint can result in negative changes. This is often found in showjumping horses and animals who have led an active lifestyle.
Inside joints there are bone surfaces which are normally covered with a thin layer of cartilage, these are lubricated with a small amount of joint fluid, which allows the two surfaces to ‘glide’ over one another with minimum friction. With equine arthritis, the cartilage within the horses joint undergoes change or damage, becoming less smooth and resulting in the bone surfaces rubbing together. Pain levels increase as the cartilage thins, resulting in pain, inflammation, stiffness (lack of mobility) and eventually, lameness.
Arthritis joint symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion (lack of mobility). Any joint in the body can be affected by osteoarthritis, but the most common locations of arthritis in horses are found in the fetlocks, back/spine, hocks, neck and hoofs (including the navicular area). Specific diagnosed arthritic conditions within the equine industry are can also be diagnosed as ringbone and bone spavin.
What causes arthritis in horses?
There are two main causes of arthritis diagnosed in horses, inflammation and general wear and tear. Horses over a certain age are also more likely to show signs of arthritic pain. A lifetime of bearing weight and absorbing shock takes its toll and the horses natural mechanisms for repair decline. When damage starts to occur quicker than a repair, then a joint problem often follows.
Sadly, age-related deterioration (or DJD) is hard to avoid altogether, but it’s important to note that age isn’t the only contributing factor in DJD. Horses that are vigorously exercised over hard ground are at greater risk of arthritis later in life through repetitive trauma. Similarly, horses that are poorly conformed will be relying on compensating joints to balance them. As a result, the joints are quickly weakened and become susceptible to injury and strain.
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How is arthritis treated?
The aim of any treatment to an arthritic horse is to relieve the pain, reduce the inflammation in the joints and slow the cartilage breakdown. There is no cure for arthritis at this time, but it is possible to reduce pain and inflammation, whilst preventing further damage. When given daily, a targeted joint supplement or medication may help support the joint and ease discomfort, although there is a range of alternative horse therapies also available.
In your horse’s early years, you might want to consider how your horse is worked and the kind of terrain this happens on. Remember to always incorporate a warm up and cool down into every session to prevent friction occurring in the joint. Supportive boots and magnetic therapy may also be worth exploring if your horse is experiencing arthritis particularly badly.
Can arthritis be cured?
As previously outlined, there is currently no cure for arthritis, but there are many treatments that can slow it down. Sadly it’s the case that once cartilage in your horse’s joint(s) has been damaged it rarely repairs itself completely.
It’s not all bad news though, as there are many ways that the condition can be managed to ensure that your horse can be pain-free; whether it’s by using medication, changing the appropriate lifestyle or using alternative therapies.
Commonly used techniques for arthritic pain relief
NSAID medications are commonly used to treat the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, post-surgery discomfort, or other pain. There are, however, health risks associated with using NSAIDs in horses for extended periods of time, especially if not used according to directions, or if the animal has other health problems. All NSAIDs can cause side effects, the most common being vomiting, loss of appetite, depression, and diarrhoea. More severe side effects include stomach or intestinal ulcers, liver failure, kidney failure, and in some cases even death. In essence, they are not a ‘long term solution’. As public awareness increases, there has been a significant improvement in the range of holistic and more natural treatments along with natural alternatives to NSAIDs.
Traditional magnetic boots and magnetic bands have been used for decades; with a mixed reputation. Traditional magnets create a pulse which increases the heat locally; this increase in temperature helps increase blood flow. Traditional magnetic devices, boots, rugs, and so on claim to support a vast array of health conditions. Increasing heat/blood flow is just a small step in the process of helping many conditions, including arthritis, and in some cases can be detrimental to the horse. A splint, for example, should never have heat applied to whilst recovering. In many cases when owning a horse it is advised to seek methods to support your horse from a preventative perspective.
Further techniques used in the equine industry to treat arthritic horses with mobility issues include ice boots, which reduce the temperature, and a large range of natural supplements to aid joint recovery. Some people have found herbal preparations to be effective for relieving discomfort, but it may not be wise to use them without consulting a veterinarian first. Benefits in using supplements and as part of a balanced diet include the use of holistic therapy devices such as magnetic fetlock bands or boots alongside the supplement intake.
Interested in how EQU StreamZ might be of benefit to your horse? Simply visit our product page EQU StreamZ fetlock bands®