arthritis in hock- should I get it injected?
My horse, Clover, has arthritis in both hocks. He is slighly what I guess you would call sickle hocked, which has caused the arthritis. Several years ago I had him x-rayed and he was diagnosed with the arthritis. Since then I have been managing the arthritis with hycoat shots once a month and a daily joint suppliment. However, he still goes off behind at times (to be expected). The fall seems to be the worst time for him. Unfortunatlly, it is the best time to ride. I have been struggling with the decision of whether or not to go ahead and get his hocks injected. Right now we are not really doing much (flat work and occasional jumping). I had a vet out a few months ago to talk about injecting him and decided against it then but he is off again and the BO where I have him boarded seems to think that I should get him injected. She says if it were her horse she would want him to be ridable durring the the best riding season and she would just go ahead and get it done. However, I am nervious about it. I know there are risks and I don't know if I want to take those risks with his health at this point. I do know tho that he may be more comfortable. The other thing is how often will he have to have it done after that, I am afraid to start something and him end up being worse. The other question I have is whether I should have my local vet do it or should I trailer him up to the vet that diagnosed him, Dr. Riddle in MD (much more expensive and we are very very strapped right now- husband is sick and lost his job). I am worried about the risk of infection. I know that is a slight risk but it is still there and could be very serious. So, what experience do those of you here have with this? I am sure some of you have had to make this decision before, why did you decide to do the injection? What did you decide to use? How successful was it?
If done by a conciencious veterinarian, the risk associated with joint injections is minimized. This means you should expect a vet to clip the area to be injected and scrub scrub scrub as though he were doing surgery on your horse. And that it would be done in an enclosed room with your horse in stocks and most likely sedated. These precautions will minimize the risk by minimizing the chance for contamination of the injection site and of the horse moving while the vet it injecting. How often you have to do them will depend on the severity of the condition and how you use your horses. Many many competition horses go 6 months between joint injections....it's not something that would require doing every month or even every 4 months in a horse that gets light use. You don't have to keep them up after you start them either. If your horse does fine the rest of the year without them, then there is no need to get them repeated until next fall.
Joint injections can be very beneficial because they help break the inflammatory cycle that can cause continued arthritic changes in the joint. They also can be used to supply the joint with the building blocks for cartiledge and for making more "slippery" joint fluid to help the joints to function more comfortably.
As for which vet you should use to give them, the vet who is going to be doing it needs to see x-rays of the hock so he knows where the problem is. And he needs to be comfortable with giving joint injections. If your regular vet puts you off from them but the other vet says that they would be a good idea, it may be because your regular vet is not as comfortable doing it.
Thanks so much!! I think I will call Dr. Riddle and see how much it would be for him to do it. I think I would feel more comfortable getting it done by him rather than the local vet doing it at the farm. It seems that would minimize the risk. I just wish our finances were in better shape but I can't help that right now. If I can't afford Dr. Riddle, I don't think I will take the risk with the local vet. I will just continue what I am doing and be careful what I am doing with him until I can afford to get it done in MD.
I've had very good experience with injections. But make sure you have a good vet or they are useless. I decided to get my horse done after all the same research as you because in the end I wanted him to be comfortable. I've had him injected several times starting 4 years ago...about every 6 months at first and now maybe once a year give or take. My vet said there is very little risk of a bad reaction in the rear legs from multiple injections...whereas he only reccomends the front joints getting injected twice at most in a liftime.
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