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hock/stifle pain?

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  • hock/stifle pain?

    Trying to figure out what to do for my horse... Her stifles have been giving out, even when she is walking in her stall, and she has a hard time making the transition from trot to walk. She has always had a history of weak stifles, which has improved with hillwork, poles, etc. However, she has had a significant amount of time off for treatment of EPM, so her stifles are obviously weak again. The vet ruled her okay to go back to work about a month ago, so I have slowly been bringing her back.

    In addition, she is reluctant to get off her front end. She had her hocks injected about a year and a half ago (yes I know, bad idea for an EPM horse), but that was prior to her diagnosis. She finished up the loading dose of Pentosan a few weeks ago, it had a slight improvement, but I am wondering if there is something else I can do.

    I know that I can't give her steroids, but would it be completely unheard of to inject joints without them? What about estrone? Any other ideas?


  • #2
    I'm actually getting one of my horses' stifles blistered tomorrow. He was layed up for a few months due to an injury, walked for 6 weeks and been back in real work for a month and a half, and his stifles just got very loose and weak due to the layup. I too have been doing lots of walk and trot poles, hill work etc... this horse is also a bit prone to weak stifles. What my vet does is he injects iodine (the blister) into the muscle that supports the stifle (sorry don't remember the name) and the iodine works as an irritant, strengthening the muscle, thereby making the stifles stronger and less loose. Just a warning if you are interested in talking to your vet about this, the blister really cripples them up for a week or so and you have to make them work through it. That said, I have had good results with it.

    I have also heard several people say that they have had good success with estrone for weak stifles.
    Last edited by Judysmom; Apr. 18, 2012, 09:25 PM. Reason: oops clarity!
    Unrepentant carb eater


    • #3
      Ask your vet about IRAP for the hocks--no steroids involved. Estrone is great for weak/loose stifles if the horse is sound enough to be in regular work.
      Originally posted by EquineImagined
      My subconscious is a wretched insufferable beotch.


      • Original Poster

        That is interesting about the blistering. Quick question for you, I know that it is usually recommended to inject both joints (i.e. both hocks, both stifles, etc.), is that not the case with blistering? Do you usually do only the stifle that is bothering them, and leave the other one?

        Herbie - yes, the horse is sound enough to be in regular work, I am just having trouble with the stifle weakness. I will ask my vet about IRAP, thanks!


        • #5
          sprinterz, I don't know, I'm sure your vet will know, but I think blistering a stifle and injecting a joint are targeting different issues. Joint injections address arthritis or trauma in a joint, blistering a stifle strengthens the muscle. I wouldn't think that you would have to blister both stifles if only one was weak, but again, I don't know the real answer
          Unrepentant carb eater


          • #6
            I think blistering is rather an extreme option at this point. I would keep conditioning her. Is 24 hr turnout possible? That can be very helpful.


            • Original Poster

              Right now she is being turned out for about 16 hours/ day. I could probably increase that to almost 24 if I did some juggling (I am the BM). I agree, the more turnout the better!


              • #8
                Blistering is done to the patellar ligaments - stifles can be conditioned with hill work, but if that isn't enough, I found stifle blistering to be successful (with my horse at least). In my case, my horse didn't seem to be in any pain at all afterwards. I worked him very hard with hill work for about 9 days straight afterwards (a couple of the days were jumping in the ring vs hillwork) and he is on 24/7 turnout. My vet said that if you don't get them moving and working hard daily for about a week after blistering, then they will become stiff and sore, so you want to make sure your horse is conditioned enough to do some "hard" work at this point. It doesn't seem like that extreme of a procedure in my opinion, especially for a horse whose stifles are "giving out" as you describe.

                I agree that conditioning should be your first route, but I wouldn't hesitate to at least ask your vet about blistering if your horse has a history of weak stifles. My vet blisters both stifles for $65 total.
                "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse..." ~Revelation 19:11


                • #9
                  At worst estrone does nothing, at best it works miracles so is always worth a try with stifles in my opinion.
                  McDowell Racing Stables

                  Home Away From Home


                  • Original Poster

                    Thank you everyone for your help! I think my plan right now is to try the estrone, and keep conditioning her. If that doesn't work, I will ask my vet about blistering when he is out to do coggins in a month or two. The IRAP sounds interesting too, I will ask my vet about that the next time I see him.