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What treatment options are available if your horse is diagnosed with bone spavins? H&H finds out

Injection of the joint with corticosteroids. This reduces inflammation, provides pain relief and can be repeated as required.

Tiludronate (Tildren) alters bone metabolism in an attempt to slow the progression of osteoarthritis. A recent large study by Gough et al showed improvement in lameness after treatment with this drug.

Pentosan polysulphate (Cartrophen) has cartilage protecting properties and is licensed for use in dogs but not horses. There is no large clinical study in horses available, but beneficial effects have been shown in laboratory models.

Extracorporeal shockwave therapy. Long-term evidence of the efficacy of this treatment is lacking.

Arthrodesis (fusion) of the joint performed surgically. But effective in only approximately 60% of horses used for general riding and seems to be less so in high-level competition animals.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory treatment, such as bute. Less useful in competition horses owing to doping regulations.

This is an extract from a veterinary feature on dealing with hock problems, first published in Horse & Hound (19 August, ’10)

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