Getting a forearm abcess to come to head.

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Getting a forearm abcess to come to head.

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  • Drain abcess to
  • Abcess on forearm

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    11-15-2009, 04:40 PM
Question Getting a forearm abcess to come to head.

Quick question here. My mare has yet another forearm abcess/swelling/infection occuring. Long story short: she almost definitely has Cushings, fell and hurt herself earlier this year fairly severly, since then has had recurring abcesses on the forearm of the injured leg. The vet came out initially and gave her antibiotics and the injury healed fairly well considering the relative severity.

Anyways, I need to know if there are any good ways to help bring this thing to head a little quicker to help her out. No vet unfortunately, my parents don't have the money right now and either do I. Please don't give me the "if you can't afford vet care don't get a horse" spiel. We've had this horse for 28 years and the financial thing is a new occurence.

I didn't search the threads, so I apologize for that. I have 3 test, three presentations, and two papers due in the next week and a half in addition to a bunch of horse duties so I didn't want to spend an hour or so searching through the threads.

Sorry for the book and thank you for your help!
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    11-15-2009, 08:28 PM
Did the initial injury involve a good bit of blunt force trauma---a good hit to the leg? Did the injury go down to the bone? Where exactly on the leg is it?
    11-15-2009, 08:39 PM
On the lateral slightly dorsal side of the forearm about 2-3" above the knee. It was about 1.5-2" long and probably 1/2 to 3/4 wide. Not sure how deep it was. It may have gone down to the bone. When I came down to the barn she was standing there with a plume of frozen blood down her leg and the wound had flesh kinda pushing out of it?

I would say there was a good bit of blunt force trauma to it. She had several very bruised areas on her body. I was really worried that she had broken something from the way she was moving. It was really swollen above the cut and w/ a hard approximately egg sized lump (maybe a little bigger). The vet gave her a 3 day course of antibiotics, but he barely looked at it. This is the same vet that refused to look at their teeth. Apparently you don't worry about teeth unless the horse is loosing weight. I cleaned it with a weak betadine/warm water mixture for several days. It closed up pretty quickly though. I tried to flush it, but obviously I didn't do the best job.

Also, she does have a constant hard (scar tissue?) area right around the initial wound area. The vet/professor in one of my classes thinks that it is probably scar tissue.
    11-16-2009, 12:01 PM
An x-ray of the area would be a good idea since this abcess is recurrent. One of the things that happens sometimes with traumatic accidents involving the legs is something called a sequestrum. Owners generally notice an area on the leg where there was a prev. Injury and that now occasionally opens and drains. What occurs is that the bone underneath can be damaged or an area of bone even killed which leads to an area of chronic inflammation and the development of a pus pocket because the body is trying to get rid of that dead/damaged tissue. The pressure builds until a draining tract opens to the outside of the body and then once it's relieved the area closes over and the cycle starts again.

Sequestrums are diagnosed via x-ray and require surgical removal of the damaged bone to stop the chronic inflammatory process.
    11-16-2009, 12:20 PM
I wouldn't be surprised if there was an underlying issue like that. Unfortunately that is all WAY over the budget for me. My parent's won't spend (and don't have right now) that kind of money and she is their horse. Especially to spend on a 29 year old horse that has other health issues.

Basically the abscess occurs about once every 1.5-2 months, so my goal has been to get it to drain and keep her comfortable while it is happening. It's usually swollen/painful for 3-4 days max and then drains and she's fine for awhile. She doesn't come off her feed or stay still. She just walks around a bit slower than usual and rubs her leg a bit. If you didn't know her you'd probably just think she's an old arthritic horse (which she is).

I know this probably seems horrible to you and probably some other people, but it is what it is. She's a very happy girl (except while this is happening) and she's spoiled and petted daily. It's just at the point where it's more about making her last years enjoyable (with some minor discomfort at times) then trying to really prolong her life. If it was about prolonging her life I'd have a grazing muzzle on her all summer and on a major diet all winter, but I just want her to be as happy as she can. If I was graduated with a good job waiting for me then this would be a different story, but I'm not. As they say "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride."

Anyways, right now I'm hotpacking it several times a day to hopefully help it drain faster. I'm going to talk to the vet and see if they will give me some bute to take the edge off for a couple of days. Thank you for your response though. I spoke with my vet tech friend and she said about the same as you did. Based on the area of swelling she was thinking the infection may have gotten into the tendon sheath, but said for a diagnoses Xrays would be needed.
    11-16-2009, 12:25 PM
Poke it with a shrp knife and open it up.
    11-16-2009, 12:29 PM
There isn't a "soft spot" yet... so I'm not sure where to poke. They've all been coming out the same spot though, so more than likely it'll be the same. I've thought about shaving it, but it's starting to get cold here and she lives outside... Think it's a big deal to shave a 3" by 6" spot on an outdoor horse's forearm going into winter?
    11-16-2009, 12:31 PM
Originally Posted by MN Tigerstripes    
There isn't a "soft spot" yet... so I'm not sure where to poke. They've all been coming out the same spot though, so more than likely it'll be the same. I've thought about shaving it, but it's starting to get cold here and she lives outside... Think it's a big deal to shave a 3" by 6" spot on an outdoor horse's forearm going into winter?
I think she can survive that.
    11-16-2009, 12:34 PM
That's what I was thinking this morning when I was hot-packing it. I felt it to see if I could feel where it would come out, but she's got like 3" of hair so it's a little difficult. It would probably be easier to clean if it was shaved too. Thanks!
    11-16-2009, 12:52 PM
Years ago my sister had a knot/boil not that would not come to a head and a older lady had my mom make a paste of flour and castor oil and put it on the spot with a bandage so it wouldn't come off. The next day it opened and drained.
Not sure if this was of any help, don't think it would hurt to try it.

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