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Swelling in my horse's knee

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  • Swelling in my horse's knee

    I got a new horse last Saturday, she is young (5) and had clean legs when I bought her. A few days later she came in from the paddock with a swollen knee. I think she was kicked by another horse through the fence. There is a bit of heat in it, but she is completely sound.
    When I ride her the swelling does not go down. It is a squishy swelling, not hard. It has been almost a week now and I am getting a little concerned.
    My mom told me that years ago my other horse had the same thing happen to him (got kicked in the paddock) and it stayed swollen for a few weeks (he was sound). I don't think it's necessary to call the vet unless it starts to bother her.
    Has anybody else had something like this happen to them?

  • #2
    This happened to my horse over the summer when a barn employee moved him to a different stall without my knowledge. My absolutely wonderful barn owner paid all of his vet bills - to the tune of $650 for two visits!

    I posted here because I remembered hearing over the years that knees are *much* more fragile than other joints (well, stifles probably rank up there too...), and I was feeling really unsure about the whole situation. Got some great information on the thread and ended up calling the vet within a few hours.

    Here's the link: http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/sh...d.php?t=215075

    Since your mare is not lame AND the swelling is squishy, I'm guessing she has a capped knee. Unfortunately, that tends to be permanent, although I've heard that in some cases steroid injections done early on can help shrink it down before it becomes permanently stretched out. But, to be 100% safe (given that it is a knee), I think it would be a good idea to get the vet out for a look-see. Unfortunately, there is very little information available on the internet about equine knees, so I was grateful for the advice I got here last summer!

    Best of luck.

    Comment


    • #3
      My 6 yo got kicked this fall and had a swollen knee for almost a month!

      When it first happened I pulled him out of the field and started doing cold hosing and cleaning it really well with Nolvasan scrub and ointment. (There was a tiny break in the skin but not anything that justified the swelling.. so I thought).

      After it didn't go down after about a week I decided to put him in a stall and do some more aggressive treatment. This included having the vet look at him and starting him on antibiotics.

      Vet recommended sweating it which really helped. I'm sure the antibiotics were doing their job too but I put the sweat on and when I took it off 24 hours later the swelling was almost gone.

      I had to sweat him one more time (sweat for 24 hrs off for 24hrs sweat for 24hrs) but it finally went down.

      He was never off during this time and his knee is perfectly normal now.. no capping or permanent damage.
      http://www.clarkdesigngrouparchitects.com/index.html - Lets build your dream barn

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Thanks guys. I feel a bit better now. This horse is a resale project so I would hate to have an ugly knee/permanent damage! I am also on a very limited budget with her, so I'm avoiding a call to the vet unless it's completely necessary.
        Meredith clark- I'm glad to hear your horse was okay. Do you think my horse will need antibiotics to get the swelling down? Are they very expensive? I am not familiar with sweating a horse, could you please explain to me how it's done?
        Can you tell that I have been *very* lucky and have not had the vet out for any bad injuries? This is the first horse that I've owned by myself (no support from parents). I've been sharing horses with my mom for over 10 years and now that I'm on my own I feel so out of the loop when it comes to horse care! Shame on me!

        Comment


        • #5
          To be perfectly honest I'm no pro at sweating! Thankfully my friend took me in, allowed me to use her beautiful wash stall (my guys are field boarded) and showed me how to sweat!

          This is useful reading but of course always call YOUR vet before doing anything: How to Sweat

          What I did:

          1) Cleaned the leg really well with a surgical scrub and hosed it off and towel dried it.
          2) Coated the entire leg (3 inch above the knee to fetlock or where ever swollen)with furazone
          3) wrapped the leg with plastic wrap (like from the kitchen)
          4) Wrap the knee and lower leg with no-bow wraps (this is the hardest part!
          5) Bandage the no-bows with stable bandage (or whatever you want)

          Leave sit for 24 hours and then rise off.

          It's not easy to wrap plastic wrap or wrap a knee in general, if you know someone who is really good at wrapping you will save time and prevent bows.
          http://www.clarkdesigngrouparchitects.com/index.html - Lets build your dream barn

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by horsewithdrawal1 View Post
            Meredith clark- I'm glad to hear your horse was okay. Do you think my horse will need antibiotics to get the swelling down? Are they very expensive?
            Antibiotics aren't very expensive but you usually have to get them from your vet, you'll save if the vet will give them to you without a farm call.

            I used Tucoprim Powder and SMZs are usually cheaper but you have to give like 12 twice a day and it's annoying!
            http://www.clarkdesigngrouparchitects.com/index.html - Lets build your dream barn

            Comment


            • #7
              If its squishy/water on the knee, DMSO it once a day for 10 days. It may not change at all during that time. It will probably go away, it just takes time. The DMSO gets it going. Keep an eye on it ~ check to be sure the DMSO doesn't cause a skin scurf ~ if it does, water it down some so its not so strong.

              Comment


              • #8
                Are you sure that there is no break in the skin? Even a small scratch?

                If there is, it could be cellulitis which will require antibiotics.

                This happened to my horse earlier this year. As you can see (if you click through) his knee was huge. He was never lame on it. In fact, my vet told me to ride him to help get the swelling down.

                Treating cellulitis in horses
                Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Knees can go so nasty so quickly, I would have the vet out to radiograph. If there's a chip in there, you want to deal with it ASAP.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Just went through this last Sunday evening when our mature gelding presented w/ a slightly swollen knee but no limp.

                    It was much fuller Mon a.m. and I put DMSO on it and did aggressive hydrotherapy twice. It reduced in size some during the day. Overnight the entire leg became a stovepipe. Took him to the vet Tues a.m. The horse was sensitive on the medial side of the knee though cellulitis was starting to set up above the knee. Vet did not US but thought I was dealing w/ a strain on the collateral ligaments of the knee. Recommended sweat wrapping it for three days, hydrotheraphy and antibiotics. Bute only if needed.

                    Kept the horse confined except for twice daily 1 hour turnout where he walked around a little. The leg was reducing some but I wanted a specific diagnosis so on Fri I went to another vet. He US and showed me that all the ligaments and tendons were fine- no strains or tears. The muscle above the knee had fluid in it so he believes the horse torqued the leg. Just to be certain that there was no additional problem we shot some radiographs. No problems were found.

                    A few years back a mare we owned slipped on ice falling to her knees. She developed a hematoma which took a long time to go away.

                    At the very least I would want an US on a swollen knee.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Meredith Clark View Post
                      To be perfectly honest I'm no pro at sweating! Thankfully my friend took me in, allowed me to use her beautiful wash stall (my guys are field boarded) and showed me how to sweat!

                      This is useful reading but of course always call YOUR vet before doing anything: How to Sweat

                      What I did:

                      1) Cleaned the leg really well with a surgical scrub and hosed it off and towel dried it.
                      2) Coated the entire leg (3 inch above the knee to fetlock or where ever swollen)with furazone
                      3) wrapped the leg with plastic wrap (like from the kitchen)
                      4) Wrap the knee and lower leg with no-bow wraps (this is the hardest part!
                      5) Bandage the no-bows with stable bandage (or whatever you want)

                      Leave sit for 24 hours and then rise off.

                      It's not easy to wrap plastic wrap or wrap a knee in general, if you know someone who is really good at wrapping you will save time and prevent bows.
                      I follow the above w/ a couple changes. I only leave a sweat wrap on 12 hours, then off 12 and back on 12 hours- repeating for up to 3 days. I also apply DMSO gel to the furazone.

                      You can use a spider bandage to keep the sweat wrap on the area above the knee. Apply the standing wrap the regular way then add the spider bandage above....

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Last year my 8 year old OTTB came in with a pasture injury that sounds similar to yours, but he was not sound at the time. We had the vet out for xrays to rule out a fracture. Recommended treatment was rest & small paddock turnout. He appeared to be quiet in his turnout, but a month later the knee still was not back to normal. We ended up injecting the joint, using surpass topically, wrapping with a pressure type bandage to immobilize it & doing stall rest for another month. While he's perfectly sound a year later...he has reduced range of motion in the knee and xrays show some arthritic changes. Only time will tell if the knee will be a problem in the future.
                        If I had to do it over, I would have been much more aggressive in treating the knee, doing complete stall rest & anti inflammatories in the first few weeks to get the inflammation under control asap.
                        "We're still right, they're still wrong" James Carville

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by SLW View Post
                          I also apply DMSO gel to the furazone.
                          DMSO scares me! I'm always afraid that it's going to be on me or my horse and then we'll touch something poisonous
                          http://www.clarkdesigngrouparchitects.com/index.html - Lets build your dream barn

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Same thing happened to my horse. vet checked (no xray) said to monitor and not to be concerned unless he started showing signs of lameness. 9 months later his knee was still enlarged... i wanted to start doing some OF stuff, so i had it xrayed, no issues. took 1.5years for it to go back to normal...

                            my point? you may be waiting a while
                            www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                            chaque pas est fait ensemble

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Petstorejunkie View Post
                              Same thing happened to my horse. vet checked (no xray) said to monitor and not to be concerned unless he started showing signs of lameness. 9 months later his knee was still enlarged... i wanted to start doing some OF stuff, so i had it xrayed, no issues. took 1.5years for it to go back to normal...

                              my point? you may be waiting a while
                              I second this...

                              I've done both- wait and see approach and also immediate radiographs. Gelding messed up his knee a couple months ago but I had the vet out within 48 hrs for radiographs. Of course his knees (had both done) were clean. He was lame too but by the time the vet arrived most of the swelling was gone. Did the usual wrap/deep bedding/hand walk protocol.

                              I had another gelding that had a knee injury but it took months before his knee looked good again even though he moved sound. Didn't have radiographs done until maybe month 6 if memory serves??? He also had clean knees though his ankles were atrocious!!!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Sounds like there are so many scenarios. With my yearling-who-gets-one- problem-after-another he wiped out on concrete and got a big knee. Stayed sound. It didn't go down in a few days so off to the vet who did digital x-rays, injected dye, flexed the knee and did anothe x-ray. Could see that the joint capsule was not involved. Shaved the knee, scrubbed it up, stuck a large gauge needle in and squeezed out the fluid syringed in steriod and Naquazone and pressure bandaged it up. Three days later, took off the bandage, knee perfect. Until the next morning when it was up again.

                                Whole procedure again, except this time sent a sample off to the lab. Three days later took off bandage and although the knee is bigger than the other one, I can live with it and maybe it will continue to go down as he gets bigger. I massage it hard daily with my hands to break down fibrous tissue inside.

                                While it was an expensive scenario, it could have been a chipped bone, capsule could have been leaking, it seemed the best course of action. I'll never know if I had left it if it would have just gone away on its own over time. Probably would have!

                                We were going to do a Furozone/DMSO/steroid sweat, but decided not to.
                                With the saran wrap, it is very - very - important that the wrap does not circle round the knee and get into a tight pressure point when the animal lies down.

                                By shaving the knee, the Elastoplast could stick to the forearm and not fall down like a slouch sock.
                                Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by Bogie View Post
                                  Are you sure that there is no break in the skin? Even a small scratch?

                                  If there is, it could be cellulitis which will require antibiotics.

                                  This happened to my horse earlier this year. As you can see (if you click through) his knee was huge. He was never lame on it. In fact, my vet told me to ride him to help get the swelling down.

                                  Treating cellulitis in horses
                                  No break in the skin at all! Is cellulitis usually a hard swelling or soft?

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by Simkie View Post
                                    Knees can go so nasty so quickly, I would have the vet out to radiograph. If there's a chip in there, you want to deal with it ASAP.
                                    Is it likely that there could be a chip in this knee, if she has not taken one lame step on this leg? If she were lame I would be more open to the idea of taking radiographs.

                                    As for now- I will try cold hosing and continue to ride. The knee is not tender to touch at all. It is not bothering her in the least. I am hoping that it will work itself out over the next few weeks. Thanks everyone for your help. If I think it is causing a problem I will get the vet out for a second opinion.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Could be nothing but it might not be. I would get the vet out.
                                      When my gelding was first turned out again after he developed a sweeney shoulder, he got puffy fluid filled knees (we think from tripping and going down on his knees a couple of times before he figured out how to navigate better with the nerve damage from the sweeney shoulder). In his case, it was nothing to worry about and vet did not think wrapping would help so we left it. Vet also said it might be permanent even if there was no damage to the knee. It ultimately went away on its own.
                                      There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.(Churchill)

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