Horses are susceptible to tendon and ligament injuries due to the nature of the activities they are required to carry out. They are fast and majestic creatures to ride, which also makes them prone to injury more than other animals.
Tendons are the fibers connecting muscle to bone, while ligaments are strictly bone to bone connection fibers. Tendon injury is a serious matter in horses that can cause lameness and a great amount of pain for the horse. However, thanks to some new research, tendon injuries in elder horses are getting new answers.
Causes of Tendon Injuries
The structure of a horse’s leg is designed for speed and due to this design, a lot of pressure is put on the tendons in the legs. Race horses put a lot of strain on their tendons and are most susceptible to the Superficial Digital Flexor Tendon (SFTD) injury. Tendon injury can be caused by either mechanical overload or blunt trauma.
Conditioning is also a contributing factor in tendon injuries. Horses that are ridden hard without proper training will develop tendon problems over time. One more thing that may cause such injuries in horses is the lack of a warm up before their owners ride them. This causes the tissues to stay cold, which makes them less flexible and more prone to injury than warmer ones.
It has been found that older horses have harder tendons that do not support constant stretching. Stiffness of tendons also contributes to a great amount of tendon injuries in the elders of the horse family. All these answers brought to light with new research can help us be more aware of the reasons for tendon injuries in horses.
Spotting a Tendon Injury
Inflammation and swelling are the main signs of tendon injuries. A minor injury results in swelling, but if the tendon is ruptured the horse will be visibly lame and will walk on its toes. Flexion tests and X-rays are better ways to diagnose damage, where it is easier to isolate the source of the injury.
Treatment of Tendon Injuries
Recent research regarding horse tendons has enabled us to determine that different tendon injuries require different complimentary treatments. New treatments can be developed for more severe kinds of injuries.
The main function of the tendons is to transfer energy between muscles and bones, however some tendons also perform the function of storing energy. This allows the horse to run faster and more efficiently. A tendon injury needs to be handled with the utmost care or it may cause long term problems and even permanent lameness.
Some vets recommend a cold hosing to the affected area for 20 minutes, three to four times a day. Although time consuming, this will reduce inflammation and pain considerably and boost the healing process.
For more severe cases, a cast on top of a bandage is required with at least two weeks of box rest. It is important that as soon as symptoms of tendon injury are noticed, a veterinary doctor should be consulted. With the right treatment and some amount of care, a full recovery can be made. With advancement in technology, tendon injuries in the elder horses are getting new answers that can help us come up with better ways to prevent and control them.
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