The steps to take are xrays first. To find out exactly what is going on. If the hocks are dry, then nothing will work except putting fluid back in - Hock Injections.
If the xrays show that actual injections are going to be needed, then - there ya go.
You cannot take any steps forward until a full exam has been done IMO.
Oral Supplements are not proven to be effective. Many studdies have been done on Oral Joint Supplements to result in shoulders being shrugged. The reason why Oral Supplements aren't "up to par" is because they fall under the Equine Nutrition Category - where rules, regulations and testings are not strict - so companies do not have to follow any serious rules or guide lines, and can produce products that are far from what they claim they are.
Examples - The company can say that the product has "this ingredient" in it, but in actual case, it does not. Or they can say that "this much" of this ingredient is in it, but in reality, maybe only 1/8th of that dose is actually in it.
The reason is because of the category that the products fall under - Equine Nutrition. So you really have no idea if the product really does what the company states it does, or has what the company states is in it, or even has the amounts of the ingredient that they claim it has. *shrugs shoulders*
I think Orals, personally, are a waste of money and a waste of time.
Other studdies have been done, showing that the amount of the supplement given to the horse, breaks down so much during the digestive process, that the end result being that only a smidge of the full scoop given, gets to where it needs to be to do its job.
Orals may work, orals may not.
That's where NASC came in - a company/organization that came about to put a stop to these oral joint supplement companies putting false and faulty products on the shelves. They come in to the manufacturing site and break down and test the products being advertised/sold to see if the product really is what they say it is, and really has what they say is in it, and to ensure that the product is "koshur".
So if you do go the oral supplement route, do not buy a product that does not have the NASC stamp of approval on it. The NASC stamp on the product, prooves that the product is what the company says it is, and has in it what they state is in it, and has the amounts that the company advertises is in it. Without that stamp - you are buying something that may, or may not be as claimed.
Intramuscular Injections, are the sure thing - because they fall under the Equine Medical Category. Where rules, regulations, testings are very strict and closely followed. So if Adequan states that the product does this and this, you can be sure it does. If the company states that "this and this" is in it - it's the truth.
Also, IM's go directly to the source, where orals have to go through a long process to get there and only so much gets there - where IM's get there quick, and the full dose as well.
My fellow is 22, and he has arthritus in his hind right hock, and his stifle on the same leg is sticky as well. I not only take him to our local Equine Lameness Specialist, where he is xray'd and palpated - where he gets injections in his hocks and stifles - he also gets monthly Adequan IM's. No orals.
He is on full turn out, 24/7 - stall time is a no no. He is on a round bale, pasture and fed twice a day. He is an Eventer, competing at Novice, and is doing very well.
When my vet took his xrays recently, he said "He's 22? Wow, I know 4 year old's who would die to have his hocks"
Maintenance is just as important. Turn out, chiro work, work program given by a vet, IM's, hoof care, nutrition.