Fluffy had his right front fetlock injected yesterday - he had the same joint injected twice previously by a different owner.
He was on stall rest for about 15 hours, then turned out in his pasture because he said he had enough, thankyouverymuch. His two buddies and he are on a newer field and thus move approximately ten feet an hour, with noses fully submerged in the grass.
36 hrs post injection - joint is hot and slightly swollen at and below injection site. Gave bute, per vet's instructions yesterday, cold hosed, and stuck new gauze/vetwrap bandage on, mostly for my own psychological benefit.
Is this normal? I've had joint injections on other horses previously and never had this problem. Of course they were different horses and never a front fetlock.
My mind immediately goes to an infection. Any other possibilities? If the fetlock is still hot by tomorrow AM, vet will be called.
Be very, very careful. It is NOT normal. If it is an infection it can go south very quickly. My friend's horse JUST had surgery on his fetlock because of a joint injection that led to infection. If this doesn't resolve today I would take immediate action.
Isn't one of the reasons for 'stalling' a horse for several days after a joint injection to keep the injection site as dry as possible while it scabs/heals over to avoid infection? I believe I've heard this ...
I've had different vets give different instructions for stall rest following injections. I think that the injection site is considered "closed" after 12 or 24 hours, so my one vet tells me just to keep them in for one day, then they can go out, while the other vet always has us do 3 or 5 days stall rest.
Is the horse in or out? Since you gave bute, I hope he is back in? I'd be watching closely and inclined to talk to the vet again today as it really might be better to have him seen and perhaps get some antibiotics going sooner rather than later.
I would call the vet immediately. A possible infection in a joint is not a "wait and see tomorrow" situation.
Swelling and heat like this post-joint injection is not normal.
Curious what your vet's suggested protocol was for post-injection stall rest, handwalking, and turnout was... I know everyone is different and some people turn out right away. When I have had a fetlock injected, it always stayed wrapped for at least 24 hours (usually I do 48) and the horse on stall rest + hand walking for at least two days before turnout. I know other vets do things differently, though.
Although I agree that this is not normal and could be an infection, as well as agree with calling the vet, I too had a reaction to a joint injections last fall (stifle) with large amount of heat and swelling. TUnred out just to be a local reaction which we cold hosed and rubbed on liniment (as per vets instructions) and it resolved within a couple of days. Naturally I was immediately on the phone with the vet when it showed up swollen and was concerned but she was correct, just a reaction. Call your vet and ask the best course of action in their opinion!
Hi everyone - thanks for your replies. My previous experiences with injections (Hock - different horse, different joint, different vet) included 2 or 3 day stall rest, then back to work. That was in 2004 though.
Vets original instructions were: Give 1 gram of bute twice daily for two days. Stall rest for 24 hours, then 1 day of light work. Resume normal work on Thursday. (Injection was Monday AM) Injected joint was wrapped with vetwrap.
Horse does NOT stall well - He was in for 12 hours but was pacing animatedly around the stall, even though he had hay and his buddy. The kicker was him trying to insert his (injected) leg through/above the door. Vet agreed that horse would do better turned out, where he would (most likely) be moving much less. (See grass-submarine reference in first post)
After cold hosing once yesterday and once this morning, joint is still warmer than usual , but not nearly as hot as it was yesterday. Swelling is not as localized. Spoke to vet - he says that with infection, the horse is normally 3-legged lame within 24-hours. He thinks this is an episode of 'joint flare.' Now I am to do bute for 5 days, wrap for 12 hrs on/12 hrs off, and call if he is off at the walk again.
Here was my horse's time line just for reference:
Day 1 Injection
Day 2 Pick up from vet, notice warm lump of swelling at injection site, vet says "it happens, call if he becomes really lame"
Day 3 No change
Day 4 (am) leg stocks up (but the horse is on stall rest and is prone
Day 4 (11pm) fence post leg, high fever, NOT LAME Call vet who did injection (major vet hospital), they say "not an infection, I'm not coming out"
Day 5 (7 am) find a new vet clinic, 8am new vet arrives, diagnoses infection from injection. Started on IV antiobiotics immediately and is taken to the new vet hospital for treatment.
Day 5 (11 am) blood work confirms infection has spread systemically due to lack of treatment. Recommend putting horse down due to minimal chance of return to pasture soundness
Skip to 6 weeks horse is finally done with IV antibiotics and comes home with a "bad joint" on the right hind, massive deep sore from necrotic tissue at injection site and early laminitis on the left hind
And for the amazing happy ending... skip forward 2 years and horse returns to competition with no evidence of the event except a 7 inch scar were the necrotic area eventually (5 months) closed up!
PS the reason the vet thinks he wasn't three legged lame, although he was clearly in pain, was because he was foundering in the lateral leg and the pain from both was bad enough that he couldn't become 3 legged lame. He walked "fine" and the vets said he was very stoic... obviously since he survived and is competing again today.
No temperature, thankfully. He's at a consistent 99.3 without NSAIDS. He is quite a twit when it comes to paste; I have been unable to get anything of medical value IN him for two days now. (This is not to say he is off his feed - he snarfs anything that does not smell funny with glee)
This morning there is still some slight heat and swelling. I'm not sure the swelling has much of a chance to get out - it is so ungodly hot and humid here right now. My de-humidifier is pulling 2 gallons of water roughly every nine hours.
He is sound at the walk and just a titch off at the trot. Others may not discern it, as it is so slight, but I can see it a bit.
Cold hosing and inactive turnout seem to be working well for this boy. Given that the chances of him needing this joint injected again are very high, I would love to hear any recomendations.
FlyRacing - thanks for sharing your experiences. Very interesting and a bit of an eye opener. So glad things turned out well for your boy.
I would at least talk with your vet. Joint infections can be so bad that you don't want to take any chance of missing it.
When we have had our horses injected, we usually keep them in the stall until the sedative wears off, then turn them out, with the area wrapped with vet wrap, as long as the weather is dry. The next day, we remove the wrap and turn them out normally. Admittedly, we usually don't have any mud in the pasture, and we usually only have 2 or 3 horses at home. I don't think there is any evidence that stall rest is good or bad after injections or that the horse needs x number of days off. If there is any research on best practices, I would like to see it. It makes sense to keep the site clean and dry after the injection, but I don't know if there is an established amount of time before it is well sealed.