Pain in Bones, Joints and Muscles
Equine joint and muscle problems can affect your horse’s mobility and comfort.
The joints typically provide cushion for a horse when they run, jump and even trot. When this joint begins to break down from the wear and tear of normal activities, this can cause friction to occur between the bones.The cushion can deteriorate and leave nothing to stop the friction.
The joints are commonly affected by arthritis, which can cause a great deal of pain in a horse and limit their mobility in the long term.
Using natural products and therapies, including EquiHealth acupressure, to help prevent this type of problem in a horse is the best solution.
Some of the areas that most commonly affected include:
- Back -Front Region
- Back – Hind Region
- Back – Mid Region
- Foreleg – Knee
- Foreleg – Shoulder
- Forelimb – Hoof, Fetlock, Cannon, & Pastern
- Hindlimb – Hip
- Hindlimb – Hock
- Hindlimb – Hoof, Fetlock, Cannon, & Pastern
- Stifle – the true Knee
- The Temporo-Mandibular Jaw Joint
Some of the most general conditions include:
- General Pain
- Paralysis of the Hind Leg(s)
- Sore Shin(s)
- Tendon Problems – General
- Typing Up
Areas in slightly more detail:
Back – Front Region
This is the region usually called “the back”, as distinct from the loins and croup, which are behind it.
It begins on and behind the withers, and is the region where the saddle is placed.
Its underlying skeleton consists of the last 10 thoracic vertebrae.
Back – Hind Region
This is the region of the croup, between the root of the tail and the prominence due to the hip bones, near the mid-line (sacral tuberosities).
Like the rest of the spine, it is heavily clothed with muscle, save for the precise mid-line.
The spine throughout the back is horizontal although the back itself, in profile, is concave.
Back – Mid Region
This is the region consisting of the ‘chain’ of lumbar vertebrae of the spine (loins), immediately in front of the hip bones. It extends forward, half way round to the withers.
Degrees of fusion occur between the lumbar vertebrae in older horses, and the bones show a roughened surface.
Foreleg – Knee
This lumpy region is not the true knee (the Stifle of the hind-leg), but it is the equivalent of the human wrist.
Its skeleton is made up of 7 or 8 small bones (carpals), which together absorb concussion.
Foreleg – Shoulder
The skeleton of this region is the wide flat blade (scapula) sloping forwards from up at the withers, down to the “point” of the shoulder.
The scapula is clothed heavily in muscle (including its inner surface).
Damage to one or more muscles or tendons in the shoulder region is not uncommon, causing obvious lameness.
Forelimb – Hoof, Fetlock, Cannon, & Pastern
This region is made up of mostly bones and tendons, skin and horn.It is the equivalent to the middle finger and palm of the human hand.
There is little or no muscle. It is a region subject to injury and consequent lameness, which may not respond readily to conventional treatment.
A lame horse in this way should never be walked.
Hindlimb – Hip
This is marked by a bony prominence, well above the knee towards the root of the tail.
The joint is 50mm deep to this prominence.
This joint is not a common site of injury or disease.
Hindlimb – Hock
This is the equivalent of the heel in human anatomy.
The outline of the massive Achilles tendon, which extends to the hock joint, can be seen running down to it from above and behind.
As in the knee of the forelimb, there is an anti-concussive system consisting of 6 small bones.
The hock bears a lot of weight, and bears the brunt of twisting motions when the horse turns.
This joint is commonly subject to injury.
Hindlimb – Hoof, Pastern, Fetlock, Cannon
This region is equivalent to that in the forelimb, but with a longer, rounder cannon bone.
Apart from damage to the ground surface of the foot, it is subject to fewer causes of lameness than the forelimb.
The neck appears to be flattened from side to side.
At mid length, its chain of bones (vertebrae) are as near to the windpipe as they are to the root of the mane.Their edge can be felt with moderate pressure.
In health, apart from the tail, this is the spine’s most mobile region.
Occasionally a painful infection develops at the poll and/or the withers.
Stifle – the true Knee
The stifle is high up, at the level of the lower limit of the abdomen. The knee cap (patella) of the joint can be felt in front of it.
By virtue of its huge size and the cartilages it contains, it is a relatively (though not entirely) trouble free joint.
The Temporo-Mandibular (Jaw) Joint
This is principally a hinge joint, although some side-to-side movement of the jaw can be observed when viewed from the front.
Spasm of the cheek muscle closes the jaw tight (Lockjaw), which is one of many potential muscle spasm issues a horse can experience throughout the body.
The most common issues include:
This may be difficult to distinguish from localised pain, even by careful observation of the horse’s behaviour. The potential causes are numerous, and gentle manipulation may be needed, by a professional, if you are unsure of the location cause of any pain or discomfort.
Pains may originate from over-exertion, strains, sprains, jolts, or more internal causes, such as infection, or as a symptom of another condition.
For example, the uncommon condition of poly-arthritis will be indicated by the painful swelling of several joints, more obvious in the lower limbs.
Paralysis of the Hind Leg(s)
This may occur in a mare as a result of a difficult foaling, owing to damage to the limb nerves, where they ‘sit’ underneath the wall of the birth canal.
The mare may need supporting in ‘slings’ if the paralysis is prolonged.
Professional veterinary intervention is needed, and micro-current acupressure stimulation could help the concerned nerves and muscles to recover more rapidly.
This is an inflammation of the surface of the bones below the elbow (radius and ulna) and the bone of the thigh (tibia), where the surfaces become rough and knobbly.
It is most common in young race horses and is caused by the jarring of repeated landings after jumps taken at too young an age.
Tendon Problems – General
Tendons behind the cannon bone and the Achilles tendon (calcaneal) are particularly long.
In terms or healing, two problems are posed:
- Blood supply to tendon tissue is poor, and
- The return of blood from the long limbs of the horse is slow.
The speed of healing is dependent on a ready supply of oxygenated blood.
“Tying up” refers to the hard knotty feel of some muscles of the thigh, which usually follows sudden exercise without a preliminary “warm up”.
The horse may be unable to stand.
The urine is dark and there is a potential for kidney damage.