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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all. I have a 10 year old 15hh cob. He has been lame on and off for about 2-3 months now and i have had 4 different vets telling me it was an abcess deep in his leg ect and he has been on antibiotics, iodine flushs ect but i knew it wasnt due to his leg.
Finally i got an equine massage therapist out and he said it looked like one of his hips were out and to get him scanned so i called another new vet and filled him in and he came and looked at him and said he has swelling in his stifle joint and thinks thats what the problem is. He has been referred to an equine hospital for specialist scans and x-rays ect to fully diagnose the problem or problems. My question is in the meantime should i bandage his stifle? Or ice it? Or both? Ive tried to research but all i can find is the stifle ice packs which i can only get online and by the time they get here he will have been seen by the referral vet so should i DIY a stability bandage for him or just ice it a few times a day or just leave him be?
 

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Stifle injuries suck.


There's really nothing to bandage with the stifle. Since this is an old injury, there won't be any acute swelling. You could cold hose the stifle, that would be more effective than icing, but with the age of the injury probably won't do a tonne either. Keep him turned out if he's not completely gimpy, stifles need movement. Low intensity, no running and goofing off. Make sure they do an ultrasound at the hospital.
 

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One of mine had an issue in the back end when he was a yearling. I had vets and farriers look at him because the farrier said stifle and the vet said abscess. He cantered on three legs but was otherwise sound. The vet x-rayed the stifle but couldn't find anything but thought maybe there was swelling there. After a few visits I finally loaded him up and took him to the race track vet.

The racetrack vet diagnosed him with a fractured pelvis so that was a year in a smaller paddock and no lunging or work but he healed just fine.

I would check with the vet but I would probably let him out in a smaller paddock and not let him run around if possible while waiting for the next appointment. Depending on the injury a vet might call for stall rest but movement is also good depending on the injury so.... hard to advice on that one.
 

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My last vet told me that after he qualified he thought it took him three years to diagnose lameness. Obviously he could see if a horse was actually lame but to diagnose exactly where was the thing that took experience.

I had a similar problem some years back. I was leading a yearling in and a woman helping me told me, as we walked up the road, he was lame behind. Examining him in the yard I was sure he was lame high up. The vet came the next day and said it was a abscess. He did find a little pus in the foot but he was still lame a week later. The vet was absolutely insistent it was his foot.

By this time the colt was getting fractious over having his hoof prodded and poked.

After about a month I took him to the Horspital to be X rayed. The radiologist had been told to take pictures of his foot. I insisted his stifle was done first, when the vet arrived I told him that if pictures were taken of his foot and nothing was there I wouldn't pay for them if the problem was higher.

The foot showed nothing, the stifle showed that he had a bone cyst on the stifle. This was operated on by specialists. No further problems with him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The vet said there is swelling around his stifle but his hip is about an inch further then where it should be. It was a retired vet that had a look as his son did the massage and it was bothering him so he said his hip definitely out so your pelvic fracture is interesting. Hes on box rest at the moment as hes barely putting his foot down and is walking on his tippietoe. He has some pain on the other side i was assuming it was be asume of compensating for his bad leg but his pelvis would make sense.
Hes reluctant to leave the stable only walk from his dirty stable to his clean one next door. His turnout is up a hill should i turn him out as he is or wait for another few days until/if he is walking properly? He doesnt run around when turned out id say he knows himself hes too sore and has to be dragged up the hill but i am worried about lami ect with him just standing all day
 

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Agreed with ApuestosT, I would watch to see when he starts bearing weight on that leg/foot before turning out. In case it is a matter of stiffness, I might walk him up and down the aisle for a few minutes (five tops) just to see if he needs movement....

Have you made the appointment with the equine hospital? If there is a nearby racetrack - I would consider hitting that vet up - only because they are the experts in lameness... they have seen it all...
 

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When you say he was on-off lame for the last 2-3 months, was it always to the point of non-weightbearing? Or is it possible he reinjured the stifle? Cold hosing will be more beneficial in that case. Is it getting worse as he's stalled or staying the same? If you have something like an arena he could go stand in while you clean his stall, that'd be nice. No tough terrain, can move if he wants. No friends to egg him on.



Stifles are tricky because they are a high motion complex joint that needs support of the surrounding muscles. They can get worse throughout treatment because the horse stops moving and lose tone which further destabilizes the joint. I know my horse looks lamer after a year of rest and a million treatment than he did post injury because of that muscle support.



I'd also be doing standing wraps all around to keep down any stocking up. Bed deep to help those other legs. Definitely do an ultrasound at the hospital, but do know that it's impossible to image the entire joint. The posterior part of the joint is hidden. Arthroscopy is another avenue if ultrasound doesn't turn up anything definitive. Xrays can help, but also won't tell the whole story since there is so much soft tissue in there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Its happened twice since august both times he was non weight bearing. He is now weight bearing but still not great i walk him up and down the aisle while hes being mucked out twice a day and then back to the stable.
He is booked in at the racetrack vet (hospital) for wednesday for the initial consultation they never mentioned ultra sound but mentioned everything else. He gets a bit better with rest but never goes fully weight bearing unless hes on bute and then is lame 2-3 weeks after hes finished it but my own vet advised against using it this time so the hospital see the whole picture.
Im worried about him stiffening up and he is willing to walk up and down the aisle the last couple of days (which he wasnt)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
And do i do the standing wrap on the stifle or on the bottom of the leg for support? Sorry newbie to stifle injuries
 

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I wouldn't make him move any more than what he's willing to. Your vet is right, you want him hurting when he sees the vet. Bute will skew the diagnostics.


Standing wraps would just be the lower legs. You can't wrap the stifle. It's mostly to help with stocking up from not moving and compensating for the injured leg.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Vet said the cartillage is gone in his stifle and he reckons theres no good outcome. Anyone ever been told this or know another option available?
 

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Vet said the cartillage is gone in his stifle and he reckons theres no good outcome. Anyone ever been told this or know another option available?
Inside of the stifle and cartilage is perfect the outside of stifle is the damaged part

Little confused by these two statements. Are you using inside and outside to mean inside the joint and outside the joint, or medial and lateral aspect of the stifle (lateral meniscus is damaged, but not medial)?


Welcome to the Horses with Worn Out Stifles club.


Joint injections can relieve the pain and inflammation. You may also want to look into a daily NSAID like previcox. If the meniscus is actually gone, that's a pretty bad state. Stifle is very high motion and bone on bone there would be very painful plus the arthritis that is probably already there and will continue to develop. You are most likely going to have to approach his from a maintenance and pain management angle, unfortunately.


Was this ultrasound or xray?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Yes sorry lateral is damaged. Vet said there was no real difference between both sides on x-ray so bone isnt affected too much (yet) but ultrasound showed the triangle of cartilage (as the vet discribed it) missing on the lateral side and no clear line around the curve of the bone
 

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I don't know if it would help in your situation, but one of my horses had a very thinned out meniscus (also extruded and partially mineralized) and the vet injected her with Noltrex. It's a synthetic that can apparently fill that space. He also injected her with Triamcinolone, which I gather is some sort of cortisol.
 

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I am very sorry to share that my old horse Beau had pretty much the same diagnosis as your horse. He continued to degrade despite my best efforts and I ended up putting him down at the young age of 14.



That might not be the story you were wanting to hear, but it was the reality for me. Fluid on the stifle, hip dropped, etc etc. He would have good days and bad days. The bad days he couldn't even trot on his own in the pasture. He got to the point where he was getting very cranky and it was changing his personality, and I knew that it was time.


Stifle injuries stink. Especially when they have gone on for a while.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thats very interesting i will look into that. His bones havnt been damaged (yet) so filling the space might help 😬

No beau i appreciate it im at that stage now where im trying to do as much as possible to see is there anything that can be done but also dont want him in pain and worse. Stifles really do stink.
Hes on 3 days of bute now ive been speaking with another vet that said he may have just torn something and need time to heal so were trying that at the minute and ive one last referral to try.
 
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