Mild Stifle Lock ..... Please Help
4 days ago my 18 year old Arab was playing his usual game (as I walk through his paddock he runs large circles around me) and did a bit of an unusual hop and skip for a few strides. He carried one of his hind legs for a few moments then went back to a walk and looked a bit stiff for a few minutes and then was fine after that. So as usual I start to worry so I booked an appointment with Chiropractor/Sports Massage Therapist. My old chiro has retired so I had to book a new one. She did the usual routine that they do by checking each leg and got to one of the hind legs and hesitated. She said that he suffered mild stifle lock in that particular leg (white sock leg) and he needs to loose weight to help it out.
I have never noticed it out riding, but now that it has been pointed out to me in the past I have noticed that when I clean that particular hoof the leg is a bit slow and jerky to be lifted. My farrier has never said anything nor has my often visiting vet.
Any advice on how to help my horse get over this problem would be much appreciated ie additives, exercises, things to avoid etc. I have done heaps of research on the topic and I am more confused than ever. The Chiro did say to avoid hills and all the articles I read said hills are good. PLEASE PLEASE HELP OUT MY OLD MAN. I am at a loss.
The first thing I would do would be to consult with your vet. Since he/she is "often visiting", before I did anything, I would get another opinion. It seems odd that your vet or your farrier didn't pick up on it OR that the new chiro was the only one that did.
BTW, Loosing weight is good advise (for me too).
I would also recommend discussing this with your vet. A locking stifle is very hard to diagnose unless you actually see the horse doing it, so for a chiro/masseuse who is not a vet to just throw it out there without seeing your horse do what you described is a big red flag. Another one is the fact that for a locking stifle, it generally occurs more when a horse is out of shape and underweight in the stifle, so for her to recommend weight loss should indicate that maybe she knows less than she wants you to believe she does. Remember, you can get a certificate in sports massage and chiropractic manipulation of animals in a matter of a few hours depending on which PRIVATE organization is granting it. There is not legal oversight of these "professions" and therefore no base requirements for education or training. Chiro's and massueses are not a substitute for veterinary care and they cannot DIAGNOSE or prescribe TREATMENT for a medical condition---that is practicing veterinary medicine.
A lameness exam by your vet is the place to start with this horse. If it is indeed a locking stifle then your vet is likely to recommend exercise such as trotting over poles and hill work to build up the muscles in the stifle area.
Many thanks for your help Ryle & iridehorses have booked the vet to come and visit. Will keep you updated. Many thanks again.
weight loss can help some conditions, but this is likely muscle related. horses bear most/more weight on the fronts, not the backs anyway. is the stiffle lock your refering to the same as an upward patella fixation? I know with that more movement is always better. Some vets recomed keeping a horse outside if they lock up alot.
I had an ottb 3 yr old tb mare that had quite severe stifle lock in both hinds. It appeared only 2 weeks after I got her, while she was letting down from racing so was very light on. She was yarded at the time from being severly foot sore (trainer ripped shoes off her then threw her out in the paddock).
She would walk stiffly for a few strides, then one leg would get stuck backwards. Initially walking her backwards solved the immediate lock by pushing the ligaments back over the patella, but in a week it had got so bad that she couldn't move that leg until I manually pushed the ligament back.
Vet came out and said that although usually it's not so good that they gain rapid weight, she needed to stack it on within a couple of weeks to help support the ligament (having said this she was SKINNY so stacking it on meant getting her to a normal healthy weight in a couple of weeks), to assist her weight we had to give her two injections of B12 to increase her appetite.
Once she had put on a little weight, I had to start walking her up and down a hill twice a day for at least 30minutes a go. So on foot, up and down a huge hill twice a day- I got fit! This built the muscle up over her hindquarters and stifle area, which further supported the ligaments which were catching on the patella.
Once I'd walked her like this for a week, she was cleared to be back in the paddock, HAD to be a slopey paddock so that she could exercise herself, and I was to rid eher up hills for 20mins a day, walk and trot only, canter was totally unbenifical.
Once she was in full work and kept permanently in the paddock, I didn't have any problems with her, other than when she was brought up for injuries and out of work.
Stifle lock in it's initial stages can be resolved by building up the muscles around the stifle to support the ligaments (stifle lock is caused by the ligaments which run over the patella getting 'hooked' instead of running smoothely over the joint, so by having the horse at a good weight, and well muscled behind this will suport those ligaments and help them to run smoothly over the joint).
I would be working your boy on hills in walk and trot and see if that improves the situation. Your vet can also show you how to manually put the ligament back in place should you get stuck. It's a simple correctly angled 'push' under the patella ;)
In severe cases, the offending ligament can be cut, however this is strongly advised against as the majority of horses who undergo this procedure develop arthritis within 4 years because of bone chips developing.
Thanks to all for all your help. I was feeling a bit down that if it is stifle lock the outlook did not look very good for future riding. But after reading all the replies I feel if the news from the vet is stifle lock the outlook is not that bad and there looks like plenty of ways to help correct this little hickup for my old man Blaze. Thanks again to all you have made my day.:-P
I had a mare that had an intermittently upward fixation of the patella and I rode her daily---jumping, running barrels, racing friends on the flat, etc. It is definitely not an automatic "you can't use this horse". I have a horse currently who has the same thing...he runs, jumps, bucks, plays etc with only minor issues with the leg catching.
I have a 3 yo filly who is diagnosed by my vet with UFP. We consulted with an equine surgeon who recommended putting her on vitamin E and selenium supplement for a month to avoid possible surgery. I was extremely nervous about the selenium. We live in an area where they get enough of it in the grasses and it can be toxic. While I waited for the VitE Selenium to arrive, I started her on SmartFlex Repair from Smartpak. It contains 10,000 mg of Glucosamine, 1,000 mg of Chondroitin Sulfate, 100 mg of Hyaluronic Acid, 10,000 mg of MSM and 5,000 mg of Vitamin C. For helping the body maintain healthy, resilient tendons and ligaments, this formula also provides 500 mg of bio-available Silica, 1,000 mg of Hydrolyzed Collagen and 400 mg of Grape Seed Extract.
I took her off of this while she was on the vit.e and selenium. She was on it for a month and started doing worse. I put her back on the SmartFlex and she is doing better so, long story short you might learn from my experiment and try the SmartFlex. Its not cheap, $56 a month, but its seems to be helping her.
ETA- I want to add that with this filly, its very obvious to the layman's eye that the stifle is locking. With your fellow you should get a profession diagnosis before taking any steps.
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