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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep. 23, 2007
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    Windsor, PA
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    366

    Default suspensory or flexor tendon injury, can a horse recover 100%?

    My husband's horse Charlie hurt his ankle last Friday, he has since been on stall rest with bute and steriods. As of now it's no worse or better, at least he's now bearing weight on that leg, but the swelling & thickening is so bad they can't even do the xrays/ultrasounds until we can get some of the swelling down. The vet is leaning towards it being a suspensory injury or flexor tendon. My heart just fell when I heard this, we had a mare that had tore her suspensory and I remember it was a long & slow road to recovery & even then it never healed very well and was quick to become re injured, I'm just hoping that wasn't the norm. Can anyone share their experiences with this sort of injury with me so I know what to expect, thank you, Lisa



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb. 17, 2009
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    1,359

    Default

    We have a boarders horse that has high ring bone, dropped suspensory issue and flexor tendon. Once the initial swelling & thickning subsided he was actually ok on turnout but it was a long healing process. About 11 months. At 6 months vet did another ultrasound, looked better but not quite healed, then at 11 months it was healed and the horse is doing lessons with, believe it or not small jumps and is sound.

    There is hope. It is lots of time off.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep. 23, 2007
    Location
    Windsor, PA
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    366

    Default

    THANKS OZONE! I'll take "hope" & "time". Poor boy though, he's been so good but you can tell he'd love to go outside. I keep telling him we love him very much & this is so he get's better. Mentally this has been just exhausting, just too many "what ifs". No use going stir crazy, just wait & see, wait & see, oh and jingling too!



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb. 17, 2009
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    1,359

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    Jingles all the way for your boy. I can 110% tell you that our horse came back great all with good time! As long as your guy is quiet on turn out it really is the best to let him walk around when he is feeling better. It is mentally exhusting for sure but every day, and ultrasound will bring brighter results!! Keep us posted on him!



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep. 14, 2002
    Location
    Azle, Teh-has
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    7,877

    Default

    without diagnostics there is no way to tell.

    My horse cracked a hind splint and his entire leg, hock to toe, swelled up like the stay puff marshmallow man--it was so fat there were no contours to his hock!! The vet couldn't say anything because it was so fat that radio graphs could not be taken.

    If it is a ligament tear there are many many success stories. I'm two for two in recovery with my horses. ; )
    It does take a little while. Usually the better part of a year.
    http://kaboomeventing.com/
    http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
    Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep. 23, 2007
    Location
    Windsor, PA
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    366

    Default

    thanks purplnurpl! For now our main goal is to try like the dickens to get the swelling down and keep him comfortable. What worries me is its the same ankle he had cut open last summer. The cut was on the outside of his ankle so it couldn't be stitched. We tended to that injury all summer until the wound finally closed all the way, that took until fall, we had just begun to lightly leg him back up but decided to pull his shoes and give him off when the bitter cold weather hit. Then he hurt himself in the field, I could just cry. The vet seems to feel the two injures are NOT related but I have my doubts, it's just to strange that it's the same ankle in the same area, just this time the swelling is above the area where the cut was. Keeping fingers crossed for a mini miracle that tonight when I get home the swelling will have gone down & he's sound again.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun. 18, 2007
    Location
    Central NJ / NYC
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    147

    Default

    Depends on how bad it is, and how quickly you got him off it, what his intended use is, etc.

    I had one with a pretty huge ankle, but barely perceptible lameness. It was a strained/damaged suspensory branch. He had time off, shockwave, and gradually was reintroduced to work. Some of the minor remaining swelling is likely permanent, but he is back to work for a year now and I never think about it. Vet said no worries.

    How much 'work' does hubby horse really do? If he's a flat only weekend warrior type, you probably have reason to be hopeful. If hubby wants to prelim event... thats another thing.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr. 6, 2004
    Location
    Elkton
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    4,468

    Default

    One of my horses pulled his suspensory while racing, went back to racing and was eventually retired sound and is now my event horse.

    It's all about rehab and I think that in many cases the race horse people (the good ones!) do it better than sport horse people.

    My friend runs a very successful racehorse lay-up barn and she's taught me that it's all about time. Horses need time to heal otherwise they'll just re-injure it again.

    Good luck!



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb. 19, 2008
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    465

    Default

    Sorry to hear!
    Ligaments usually have better prognosis than tendons, but it depends on the extend of the injury and specific tendon involved, which in your case could be either SFDT or DDFT.
    As spaceagejuliet said, what matters is what type of work the horse is normally doing. I am well into my 2nd year of DDFT tendon rehab and even though horsey is currently sound with appropriate shoeing, footing, no turnout, extra-long warmups and cool downs for low level dressage, his jumping days are over.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep. 23, 2007
    Location
    Windsor, PA
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    Default

    Thanks spaceagejuliet for your response! We got him off the ankle right away & in a stall until we could speak with our vet. That same ankle though has had some swelling in it from time to time ever since he cut it last summer but I was told it was just "cosmetic". But I'm having my doubts now about that. Hubby mainly trail rides, paper chases, has done two CTRs and hoped to do endurance rides, so no jumping but I wouldn't say our trail rides are a walk in the park either if that makes sense. I had heard about shockwave before but don't know much about it. Can the vet do that at our place or would we need to trailer him for this treatment? Keeping fingers crossed for now, thanks again for your post.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun. 17, 2002
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    Go Bucks!
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by spaceagejuliet View Post
    Depends on how bad it is, and how quickly you got him off it, what his intended use is, etc.

    I had one with a pretty huge ankle, but barely perceptible lameness. It was a strained/damaged suspensory branch. He had time off, shockwave, and gradually was reintroduced to work. Some of the minor remaining swelling is likely permanent, but he is back to work for a year now and I never think about it. Vet said no worries.

    How much 'work' does hubby horse really do? If he's a flat only weekend warrior type, you probably have reason to be hopeful. If hubby wants to prelim event... thats another thing.
    Agree w/ spaceagejuliet. A suspensory and a flexor injury - while both requiring similar treatment and time - are quite different. If it's a minor lesion in the suspensory, most horses can return to normal work after an extended layoff (a year or more w/ proper treatment & reconditioning). If it's a full tear, w/ proper treatment and time, many horses have returned to some level of work, but not typically heavy jumping or other high impact activities. Low deep digital flexor injuries are not good. Rarely does a horse fully recovery and the rate of reinjury is high. My current horse had a severe tear to his high deep digital - not nearly as bad as a low tear - and he returned to work, but only low jumping (2'6"), not the 3'+ he did prior to the injury.

    Your best bet is to find a good vet w/ thorough experience in soft tissue injuries and follow their treatment protocol very closely. There are many threads on here to search on this topic, as well as great resources such as www.horse.com. Good luck....

    Edited to add that I did shockwave on my horse's injury and was very happy w/ the results. I paid $600 total for three treatments, and that included the vet call. I don't believe he would have returned to the show ring at all without this treatment. In conjuctions w/ the shock wave, this vet had me do Surpass/DMSO sweats on the leg for 10 days straight, following a treatmetn.
    Last edited by chawley; Feb. 3, 2010 at 02:12 PM.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun. 12, 2007
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    CT
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    6,248

    Default

    I would ice and compression wrap like heck every few hours until the swelling got low enough to x-ray and ultrasound. Once you know what you're dealing with, it will get easier.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun. 18, 2007
    Location
    Central NJ / NYC
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mysaygrace View Post
    Thanks spaceagejuliet for your response! We got him off the ankle right away & in a stall until we could speak with our vet. That same ankle though has had some swelling in it from time to time ever since he cut it last summer but I was told it was just "cosmetic". But I'm having my doubts now about that. Hubby mainly trail rides, paper chases, has done two CTRs and hoped to do endurance rides, so no jumping but I wouldn't say our trail rides are a walk in the park either if that makes sense. I had heard about shockwave before but don't know much about it. Can the vet do that at our place or would we need to trailer him for this treatment? Keeping fingers crossed for now, thanks again for your post.
    You're very welcome!

    OK Shockwave depends on the vet, I trailered mine into the clinic for it. Its pricey, but paid by insurance if you've got that. Otherwise, figure $1200 total treatment cost for shockwave, given in 3 treatments.

    I would ice and wrap it, keep him very still and happy until it goes down. Does your vet have experience with these sorts of injuries?

    Nothings guaranteed, and you won't know what you are looking at until the swelling goes down and the vet can ultrasound, or xray if needed. I dont know much about flexor tendons, but either way I wouldn't lose hope on using him, just know its a long process that can NOT be rushed, and follow the vet's instructions carefully. Ask tons of questions, be realistic about what you can afford and what maintenance items you are willing to do.

    Not knowing what's wrong is the hardest part. Well, ok stall rest sucks too, start saving milk bottles, soda bottles, likits, all sorts of stuff to entertain him... Buy those latex gloves for when you have to use Surpass creme on him, actually did your vet give you any of that? What are you supposed to be doing to get the swelling down until they can come again??

    Dont let the vet leave without an action plan for you to follow while s/he is gone. Handwalking times, wrapping instructions, any medication do/donts, etc. Your vet visit is a flat fee, questions are included Get a good treatment plan and follow it. And if your vet spends time with you, make them cupcakes, I brought 2 dozen cupcakes into the office on one of my shockwave visits. lol

    Start looking for some icing solutions; you'll be doing a loooooot of that. I'd pass on the gel wraps, mine died a dirty ripped death on first use, tho some have had success. I think they make iceboots, you might find some non horse items that are a cheaper solution. My chiro gave me a wierd gel ice pack for my back that i'd probably grab for horse use if I had this again.

    Best of luck, keep us updated!


    1 members found this post helpful.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct. 31, 2006
    Posts
    940

    Default

    I've had two horses that recovered very well. One was a jumper who after proper rest and treatment went back to a very successful Grand Prix career. His was a front. This was several years ago. The treatment varies. We did a month of stall rest with hand walking 2x day. Then he went of very supervised turnout for 30 mins twice a day. No drugs to sedate but lots of attention and hand walking before turning out in a very firm sand paddock.

    The other was a hind injury and we did approximately the same thing. We kept him in a stall for over 6 weeks and we did sedate him. We handwalked for the same 20 mins 2x day.

    It worked well on both.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug. 29, 2006
    Location
    Unionville PA
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    198

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    My guy has recovered and is back to normal flatwork, just started a little jumping. I took it really slowly, with handwalking and limited turnout, but more turnout time than alot of people recommend, so we did have a few little setbacks. Started back seriously after 15 months, up to full work by about 18 months and the leg is doing super. Just recently popped over some xrails, and doing 1st level dressage work and the leg is doing just fine. It takes alot of patience though. I also did PRP, no shockwave.



  16. #16
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    Nov. 13, 2009
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    As others have said, outcome is impossible to predict with even remote accuracy until you have diagnostics (ultrasound, etc.) done. That said, I'm in the process of rehabbing a front suspensory "pull" right now and the vet expects that my horse will make a full recovery. We are coming up on 7 months post-injury now and we just started him back walking under saddle about a month and a half ago. Just had a recheck yesterday and we are moving up to 1 minute of trotting, to be increased to 20 minutes by the end of 60 days. He is not permitted to be turned out yet, and I am told that probably won't happen until he is cantering solidly under saddle. It is a long and very frustrating process, for sure, but it sounds like a positive outcome is possible. Of course, I will worry about reinjury for the rest of this horse's life, but it is what it is.

    I did shockwave as well. It was covered by my medical insurance. For three treatments, it was $1,200 total. One was done at the clinic, and two were done at the farm where we board. I felt that the shockwave helped, as there was dramatic improvement after the three shockwave treatments. I believe the treatments were done 2 weeks apart.



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun. 7, 2009
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    686

    Default

    I have to say first off that I didn't read all the posts.

    But my moms horse did a suspensory about 2 years ago and is now fine! It was low (down near his ancle) which the vet said helped and we did everything in our power to help him get better. (hand walking, then small incirments of trot, shock wave therapy and ACELL) Good Luck!!!! When I have more time I will read all of the posts.



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Sep. 23, 2007
    Location
    Windsor, PA
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    366

    Default Good News Today!

    Good news!!!!!! Today hubby had a 2nd vet out to see Charlie's ankle and do x rays. The vet feels it's just a very bad sprain but the x rays did show nicks on the bone where Charlie (the gelding) originally cut his ankle over the summer, this explains why it took so long to heal. The vet feels the swelling is from a sprain & nothing more, so no damaged liagments or tendons like we had feared - thank goodness. So with time & rest he should be rideable again. The vet wants us to keep him in a stall for another week and apply some Surpass cream he gave us & then wrap his leg & call him after the week is over. I'm so happy!!!!! Charlie has been an amazing patient, I think he's even beginning to enjoy the royalty treatment he's been getting, every night. I give him beet pulp & massage his leg with the Sore No More which a friend suggested. This stuff is amazing, it did take some of the swelling out with just a few uses! Thank you everyone for your time & advice it was much appreciated!



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr. 1, 2004
    Location
    South Bay - California
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    798

    Default

    Good news! Yay, that is very exciting - its such a bummer and a loss of time and money when something more serious happens.

    I have a 14 y/o ISH with a DDFT tear and now a potential suspensory that is healing (after $$$$$ spent on DDFT, vet and I were thinking rest was better than trying to start from zero). Been treated and rehabbed for the past year and a half. I have given him a few months off to heal naturally and do maintenence on the injury as needed - but I am hoping that being a horse will help. I won't even think of taking him out to start work again until March, even though he is jogging out completely sound in the arena.



  20. #20
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    Nov. 13, 2009
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    Default Um, a Sprain is a Ligament Injury

    Um, I hate to tell you this, but a "sprain" IS a ligament injury.

    From Dictionary.com (yes, there are probably better sources, but I'm certain this is true):

    Sprain  –verb (used with object) 1. to overstrain or wrench (the ligaments of an ankle, wrist, or other joint) so as to injure without fracture or dislocation.

    In my opinion, you really need an ultrasound to determine the extent of damage. And, I'm sorry, but you also really need a new vet if he or she is telling you that something is "just" a sprain as opposed to a ligament injury. A sprain and a ligament injury = the exact same thing.

    Just my 2 cents - take it or leave it.



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