Carpitis in horses

2 min read

Carpitis in horses - Vetster

Carpitis is inflammation of the soft connective tissues on the surface of the bones of the carpus of a horse. The horse carpus is the equivalent of the human knee joint. This inflammation can involve the fibrous joint capsule, synovial membrane, and associated ligaments and bones of the carpus. Carpitis often occurs after strenuous exercise, can affect any age of horses and can present as an acute or become a chronic problem.

Inflammation of this type can reduce the range of motion within the carpal joint and result in the horse experiencing a variable degree of lameness. Repetitive damage and inflammation of the joint can lead to further injury and even fracture of the carpal bones and frequently results in chronic arthritis.

Symptoms of carpitis in horses

Common symptoms of carpitis are:

  • Pain
  • Swelling of the knee joint
  • Anxiety
  • Joint hot to the touch
  • Lameness
  • Reluctance to bend the knee
  • Favouring of the affected limb 

Treatment of carpitis in horses

Rest from strenuous exercise is most commonly recommended for at least 7-10 days in milder cases.  Often, in addition to rest, prescription medications to help to reduce pain and swelling such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), sodium hyaluronate, glucosamine, bisphosphonate, corticosteroids, adequan are often used.

Non-pharmaceutical interventions including cold therapy, ice and cold water immersion, helps to reduce inflammation. Other treatments often used can include extracorporeal shockwave therapy, laser therapy and even arthroscopic surgery.

Concerned about carpitis in horses? Schedule an appointment with one of our veterinary professionals today at for advice and to learn more about your pet’s wellness.

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