Joint swelling in horses is common and has a number of potential causes which vary in severity. Some causes of joint swelling are potentially career-ending for competitive horses, particularly if not treated promptly. If joint swelling occurs alongside severe or sudden lameness, the horse owner should seek immediate veterinary care. Cases with mild or no lameness require prompt veterinary care, to rule out underlying issues and ensure the joint’s long-term health.
Joint swelling is a symptom of a number of conditions in horses.
oint swelling can vary in severity based on a number of factors:
Acute: Swelling has rapid onset, often associated with a sharp pain.
Chronic: Swelling has persisted for a significant amount of time (weeks, months).
Single Joint: One affected joint.
Multiple Joints: More than one joint is affected.
Degree of Lameness associated with the swelling: Lameness associated with joint swelling is serious and requires immediate attention, especially if the onset is acute.
Diagnostics for a horse with joint swelling starts with physical examination to identify the severity. Since horses have multiple of each joint, swelling can be easily compared to a counterpart to determine the severity of the swelling. Diagnostic testing to determine the cause for joint swelling may include:
Treatment depends on the cause but may include