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Diagnosing Arthritis in Your Horse

Typically, horse owners seek veterinary care because their horse is lame, or because their performance is not up to par. For example, the owner of a reining horse may say she’s noticing that her horse is reluctant to turn or to slide, or that he isn’t moving as well as he used to. You may notice swollen joints caused by an accumulation of fluid, known as joint effusion. Arthritis also causes inflammation when inflammatory mediators, molecules released by immune cells, invade the joints, resulting in a noticeable increase in heat. These processes are painful and lead to lameness of varying degrees. On a smaller-sized joint, such as the pastern or coffin joint, these changes may be more difficult to see, but you may note a ‘thickening’ of the area. In the hocks, horses will develop what clinicians call a “boggy hock,” with a lot of fluid present. As a first…

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