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X-ray experts!

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    X-ray experts!

    I have gotten two different opinions on my horse's hock x-rays and am conflicted on what to do. I don't know what to look for other then what the vet pointed out to me. I would appreciate any opinions on what you see in his x-rays. Thank you!

    Other than the vet who pointed things out to you, who else read them.

    They can also be sent to another vet, for a third opinion. For that I would use someone who does equine only, and preferably a sport horse specialist.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

    Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


      Original Poster

      both vets that looked at them are equine only and one is a sport horse specialist.



        I'm sorry you're asking a bunch of strangers who aren't vets or radiologists to help you with your conflict. You need to resolve this with your docs . Obviously you've been told something you don't want to hear. I don't think you trust them which is sad. We can't know you, your riding, your horse, his problems etc from just xrays alone. We can make better opinions about his hock issues if you'd tell us what the problem is. Then we can share our opinions/experiences or thoughts....but reading Xrays?!!! Is this some kinda test or something? Like "guess the xray changes"? Really many of us are really qualified to do this?!!!!


          Original Poster

          I have had two vets look at his xrays. One said slight signs of arthritis but nothing to really be concerned about. If he shows any issues in the future maybe inject. Another said they saw clear signs of mild to moderate arthritis, maybe one joint that has already fused and recommended injections now. He doesn't have a history of hock problems. We took the xrays because after a few days of stall rest for a diff issue he got really stiff. He has recently been treated for Lyme and overall moving much better. I just thought that since I've never had xrays taken before that maybe someone here had some experience looking at them.


            Original Poster

            I do trust both vets but since their opinions differ I am conflicted. I am fine doing injections if he needs them but if he doesn't he's only 9 and I would rather wait.


              further thoughts

              Now we can render a better opinion for ya.!! Sounds like they both are saying he has normal xrays for a 9 yr old. Both say mild. One says treat, one not. Go with not! All horses, especially athletically used ones, have arthritis in joints as they age. If he's never been hock lame then just do PREVENTATIVE things for arthritis: lotsa turnout (proven by stall bound stiffness which sounds normal to me), moderate exercise, less collected/jumping riding to save hocks, good hind shoeing/angles, maybe some joint supplements like MSM, or my favorite=Adequan. Remember: xray changes are normal as they age. ex: most horses over say 12 have navicular changes or many older draft crosses have sidebone. But they are sound! Most older horses hocks fuse. Just because it's there; doesn't mean it has to be treated. Just watch it; know it's there. Go with how he moves. Only treat lameness imho!! But if an owner is upset or insists often the vet will treat . I once bought a 7 yr old qh with bad navicular changes on xray. Good horse & sound. He foxhunted over fences until he was in his mid 20's sound. Did the usual good management things and he never took a lame step. Xrays are not the kiss of death I think.


                Original Poster

                Thank you! He is normally on 24/7 turnout so 3 days in a stall did make him stiffen up. I feel the same way I'd rather wait and see if he needs it. He is on Pentosan and MSM. He is barefoot all around but his feet look great. I don't ride that hard, 4-6 days a week but usually only for half an hour and mostly flatwork. Small crossrails depending on the day. I would like to do more showing/jumping but I won't be doing anything huge and can adjust based on how he feels. I do wish my barn had trails I get tired of riding in the ring.


                  I think it depends on the horse. We had a horse that was nine not really visibly lame but just not as willing to go forward as we like. Minor changes in hocks we injected this past January horse has been going great since. Different vets have different opinions on weather to inject sooner or later. Xrays show bony changes but they do not show cartilage changes so xrays do not always give the whole picture. From what I have been told inflammation is the worse thing for joints so injecting reducing the inflammation at the source can be pro active. There are some small risks to injecting but aside from that I think it only has the potential to make the horse more comfortable. I think it is pretty safe to inject the hocks as needed until eventually the joint starts to fuse.


                    Original Poster

                    Thanks he was really stiff on Weds so I am going to go ahead and inject. Hopefully it helps!


                      I'd rely more on clinical signs that the radiographs for the decision on whether or not to treat. If you want another opinion on the rads, you could always send them along to a radiologist.
                      "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                      ...just settin' on the Group W bench.


                        Originally posted by Fharoah View Post
                        From what I have been told inflammation is the worse thing for joints so injecting reducing the inflammation at the source can be pro active. There are some small risks to injecting but aside from that I think it only has the potential to make the horse more comfortable.
                        Injections are not being "pro-active". Besides the risk of infection, the drugs used (catabolic steroids) can cause further joint/bone damage over time. Not a benign treatment by any means and should be done only when all else fails.


                          Originally posted by stargzng386 View Post
                          Another said they saw clear signs of mild to moderate arthritis, maybe one joint that has already fused and recommended injections now.
                          Fused distal tarsal joints is not "mild to moderate" osteoarthritis! That is what occurs after end-stage disease, when all of the articular cartilage is completely gone. The fact that the vets differ from "mild enough OA to not even bother with injections" to another who says "the joints have fused" represents a huge difference in vet opinions.
                          I see (small) osteophytes which indicate moderate to severe OA. But I'm not a vet nor a radiologist; just a researcher in the OA field.
                          And as Ghazzu rightly pointed out, you treat the clinical symptoms, not the rads. My 27 year old's hocks look like crap on rads but I haven't injected him since he was 18 and he's just fine.
                          And rcloisonne is correct. The IA injections, especially if they inject steroids, will further degrade the cartilage. However, in some horses, especially young horses that is the point so that the hocks will fuse. But not all hocks will fuse so you run that risk.


                            Rads are just used to get a picture of the mechanics. The determining factor is always functionality and comfort. If he is sound and comfortable and able to do his job without limitations, leave it alone, re-x-ray every 12 months to track progression and wait. If he is showing some symptoms, I'd be more inclined to start on IM injections than joint injections. Save sticking something in the joint as a last resort.
                            Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.


                              Im no expert in horse rads, but to me the L looks more iffy than the R as far as arthritis goes. But the R looks a little more fused in the distal joints. However...neither would have me running away if the horse was sound. Preventive maintenance now - and inject later if needed.


                                Original Poster

                                Thanks for all of the opinions. He does seem to be worse on his right hock then left though the vet did say the left looked worse than the right. He is already getting Pentosan and that did make a difference. Right now he is sore on his front feet b/c of the crappy weather and flies so he's getting shoes Weds. He is stiff in his hocks from not moving around the field as much but hopefully with shoes that will get better. I'll see how he goes and if we keep having stiff days go ahead and inject. He would be injected with steroids and HA.