Hock Issues and Thoughts on Surgical Fusion, Insurance Coverage? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 09-19-2013, 03:17 PM Thread Starter
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Hock Issues and Thoughts on Surgical Fusion, Insurance Coverage?


I have a 7yo OTTB mare who is the absolute love of my life. Over the past 6 months she has been having hock issues.

It first started to manifest as a sore back, then tossing her head when going up hills and finally I sat on her bareback and she fell down on her butt in the back end. She's stiff, drags her toes, and always feels like she's about to fall down in the back end when I am riding her.

Of course I had the vet come out and she was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in both of her hocks with the right being worse. We did hock injections in both hocks and she seemed much better for a few weeks. Unfortunately after about 6 weeks the same signs of hock pain came back.

My vet came back out and recommended reinjecting the hocks which we did. She mentioned that sometimes the first injections arent enough to completely get rid of the swelling so a second round is needed. When she did the injections the second time the joint fluid was much better than it had been the first time but she was still sore.

I rode her for the first time a week post second injections and she still seemed ouchy and sore in the back. Of course I will give her some time to see if things get better but I am worried the injections arent working. The other thing to note is that right after the injections both times she is soooooo much more comfortable when not being ridden. She runs and bucks and acts like a crazy horse in turnout which she never did before so I know that they are working somewhat, just not completely.

My questions are...

-What are your thoughts on joint fusion in BOTH legs? Laser, drill, or alcohol?

-Has anyone had it done and how much did it cost?

-She has a 10,000 dollar insurance policy with American Equine. Does anyone have any experience with the surgery being covered by their insurance plan?

-Did the surgery fix your horse's pain?

Just looking for general thoughts and experiences with the surgery. I absolutely love this mare and want to anything I can for her. It crushes me that she is painful.
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post #2 of 8 Old 09-19-2013, 07:05 PM
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I've heard there is a procedure called "cutting the jacks". It involves cutting the cunean tendon. Someone I know had it done and it re-solved her horses soundness issues without having to continually inject the hock joints. It is supposed to speed up fusion.

I am having issues with my 10 yr old mare. She can't canter without cross-cantering in the hind end. The vet is coming out on Monday. So far she has had stifle injections, pentosan injections on a weekly basis for several months, and X rays. I asked about hock injections next, but the vet wasn't sure it was her hocks vs the pelvis. The vet coming on Monday is new but familiar with SI problems so we will see what he says.

If this doesn't work I'm going to have to find her a retirement home. She is good for light walk-trot riding and very safe on trails. She isn't insured or anything and I don't have a ton of money to invest. :(

It is possible you have more than just hock issues. Horses can have multiple issues in the same leg. Good luck and keep me posted. I hate mystery lameness.
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post #3 of 8 Old 09-19-2013, 07:52 PM Thread Starter
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UGH! The crossfiring in the back kills me!!! Billie does that too! The vet looked at her other parts and, of course, there is always a chance that something else is wrong as well, but the injections really are making her feel better so my guess is that we isolated what is hurting...unfortunately they just arent making her feel GOOD ENOUGH.

Thats the other worse part about it...We dont work very hard! She is my trail/ arena horse...no jumping. So its not like I can even just retire her to light riding because that is what we do anyway and she still hurts.

Im sorry your horse is feeling ouchy as well. Good luck and you keep me posted too!
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post #4 of 8 Old 09-19-2013, 09:50 PM
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Same here. All we do is walk-trot trails. She had a few years off while I was busy with school as well. Never done anything at all intensive in her life.

She has been not quite right in the back end since she was a 2 yr old. She did smash her stifles into the fence (trying to jump it and slammed into it instead) as a 2 yr old. I'm not if that is what started it or if she was like this when I bought her. Obviously it has gotten worse, even with the rest she had while I was busy with school.
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post #5 of 8 Old 09-20-2013, 10:06 AM
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Will the hocks not fuse on their own? That might be a question for your vet. A friends horse was left alone and within a year he was and has remained sound. Apparently his hocks fused on their own.
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post #6 of 8 Old 09-20-2013, 04:59 PM Thread Starter
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Well, they CAN fuse on their own but don't always and there is not telling how long it will take. It could be years :(
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post #7 of 8 Old 09-20-2013, 05:30 PM
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If she is in so much pain I don't know if the correct joints are involved to allow fusion.

Does she have arthritis of the lower hock joints (bone spavin) or of the upper joints (bog spavin)??
Each of these ailments has an entirely different prognosis. Fusion will only treat bone spavin, or arthritis of the lower joints.

They say money doesn't buy happiness -- well happiness doesn't buy horses!
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post #8 of 8 Old 09-21-2013, 03:49 PM
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This article looks interesting. Certainly seems it would be less traumatic than surgical fusion.

Bone Spavin Researchers: Alcohol Joint Fusion Effective (AAEP 2010) | TheHorse.com

And this is a cunean tenectomy:

Cunean Tendon Tenectomy | Vet Moves

I would make sure blocks are done and that you are absolutely certain that is the area of concern before treating the horse!
4horses is offline  

arthritis , arthrodesis , hocks , joint fusion , soundness

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