Blistering Stifles

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Blistering Stifles

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    05-08-2012, 07:07 PM
Blistering Stifles

Background-I have a 15.1 haflinger who was diagnosed with weak stifles. The vet said that because I was only doing everyday pleasure and trail riding with him and not taking him to shows, he wasn't concerned with doing injections but recommended blistering the stifles using green palmolive (something that makes it green is the "secret" ingredient) so I did that, once a month, overnight, for 2 months (worked great and he had no problems with pain or skin irritation) and now that the weather is nicer, he gets out on trails and hills as much as possible.

My question is, he has really built up his left stifle but the right is still a little jiggly. Do you think a stifle injection done by my vet would help tighten it up? And once you start injections, how often will I have to do them (once a month, a year...)?

I bought my boy knowing he had this issue and I didn't bat an eye as I told his owner I still wanted him. We have an incredibly amazing relationship that I wouldn't have found with any other horse. I just want to make sure he's comfortable.

Any advice or stories you have would be helpful. Thanks :)
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    05-08-2012, 08:51 PM
Wow, no answers for you, only questions sorry...

I thought of blistering as an antiquated, largely useless treatment. Never considered that sort of thing for that sort of problem. Just googled it & came up with some info & I'm going to look into further.

'Palmolive' is a brand of dishwashing liquid here! I presume it's a different thing you used? I thought the whole point of blistering was to literally blister the skin(tho there are apparently internal methods too) & the reaction somehow was thought to bring about healing. But you say it didn't even irritate his skin? So how does it work? Does it form scar tissue or such, which effectively keeps the patella where it should be?

I have a pony with locking stifles & they live on a track setup. I've found having logs across the track, like caviletti, for him to have to step over frequently, has helped build up his stifles. He's not bad at all on the track - rarely has a prob, but off it, they get sloppy. I had thought the injections only helped lubricate the joint and keep inflammation at bay - that they weren't a fix as such, rather a palliative. I had thought the only veterinary procedure that was helpful was an actual operation(??).
    05-08-2012, 09:35 PM
Palmolive is a dishwashing soap here too :) I guess the palmolive that is green has an irritant in it that will cause the joint to swell. I found this on another horse site that I thought was informational

"Its not that you are trying to get the palmolive to the ligaments. What you are doing is creating an irritant to the skin (basically drying it out & causing it to crack- like what would happen if you washed dishes all day every day & never used any lotion) and drawing the infection/swelling/pus out from the ligaments/joint/whatever you're blistering. Its not that the palmolive will treat the ligaments w/ one of the ingredients, the palmolive allows a place for the pressure/pus around that area to go. That's why basically any product you have under your sink will work as a blister if it causes skin irritation."

I didn't look closely at his stifles when I washed the soap off the next day but I did notice the swelling in the area. My vet came highly recommended and he has years of experience. I have been using him for quite a while so I trust his judgement.
    05-08-2012, 10:00 PM
I have never heard of such a thing. Blistering huh? Got the name of the clinic your vet practises out of please?
    05-08-2012, 10:45 PM
I don't have any answers either. Sorry, we're not much help so far are we...

But "blistering?" In this day? This would not be something that I would do. Cause an injury to fix a problem -- sure, ok, I'll cut off my leg if it's caught in an underwater trap, the water is rising and no one is around to help. But I just don't following this reasoning. The blistering allows the pus a place to go? Why is there pus involved in a weak stifle? Why is there swelling involved in a weak stifle.

Better questions are: why does he have a weak stifle and why is one side better but not the other? I would do some research on weak stifles away from your vet. Get knowledgeable and then ask him some pointed questions. I wouldn't trust a vet that told me to blister my horse.
    05-10-2012, 12:22 AM
"Blistering" is simply a counter irritant. What do you think your doing when you apply ben-gay, icy hot, absorbine, or heat to a sore muscle?

Blistering builds adhesions/scarring. Can be usefull in the case of stifles.Still in practice and not as "barbarric" as it sounds. No worse than Tildren.

If one stifle is still weak, ask vet about doing an internal blister.
    05-10-2012, 01:34 AM
From what I have been told by someone with a degree in science in pharmacy, that liniments make the skin tingle and do not penetrate the skin to the muscle. The tingling distracts your nerves from feeling all the pain in the muscles. She also informed me that for blistering to have adhesions and scarring, some infection has to take place. However, this is in humans not horses, so it could be different.
    05-10-2012, 08:22 AM
Applying heat to a sore muscle is to help it relax and loosen. Applying cold is to reduce swelling. Not what I would call a counter-irritant and doesn't cause any damage like blistering. Me -- I'd stay away from it.
    05-10-2012, 09:40 PM
I think there is a huge difference between putting a topical (like palmolive) on your horses stifles and actually having the vet inject them properly. From what I've learned in the last month (having my own horse injected) I would never do the topical treatment. I don't really see how that could be nearly as effective.

I had my horses stifles blistered by injection by the vet 2 weeks ago and I'm floored at how much it has helped her. She is now able to get her hind lead changes and it doing a better job pushing off to jump the fences.

As for how frequently it needs to be done... I was told that it is variable depending on the horse. It may be a couple of times a year or every couple years. It is relatively inexpensive (i was quoted less that 200 for sedation (if needed), injections and barn call) and has a pretty low level of risk associated with it if a competent vet does it.

I would say it's worth a try if the cost isn't an issue. Remarkable how quickly we started to see results.

(and I'm not trying to be a snot about the topical thing... I doubt that it's harmful or anything, I'd just say the injections are better )
    05-10-2012, 10:01 PM
Inclined to go along with NM on gut level, but I don't know enough about it to make even a semi educated opinion.

Serenity, can you tell me exactly where they inject, where the scar tissue forms? I'd be concerned with it interfering with the joint & tendons & ligs & forming ossification.

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