Equine Wound Worry: Injury Near Joints Require Urgent Care - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Equine Wound Worry: Injury Near Joints Require Urgent Care

Wounds near a horse's joint are particularly concerning as they are often in high-motion areas and closer to dirt and debris found in stalls and pastures, which might infect carpal joint capsules.

Equine limbs are poorly protected: long and bony, with minimal fat covering to take the brunt of an injury. Their joint capsules contain synovial fluid that, when compromised, can rapidly grow bacteria. Their poor blood supply makes it particularly difficult to get antibiotics into the joint effectively. 

Though most injuries won't penetrate the synovial membrane (they tend to slip to the side), anything suspected to have involved joint capsule is an emergency. It's imperative that horse owners facing a potential joint infection contact their veterinarian immediately; the emergency is just as real as a bout of colic, said The Horse.

It's not easy to tell where a joint capsule is actually located on the horse's leg, so any wound in the vicinity of a joint can be problematic. Additionally, even small wounds can wreak havoc, especially if they close over quickly, trapping infection inside. 

Counterintuitive to the treatment of many other wounds, injuries near joints should not be doused in disinfectant, which can harm the cartilage. Avoid using hydrogen peroxide or an iodine solution on a wound that might involve the joint capsule as both of these could deteriorate the joint. 

Additionally, covering a wound near a joint is key. This protects the synovial fluid from contaminants. 

Horses with wounds near joints should not be given a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory until a veterinarian gives his or her go-ahead. These drugs might mask the earliest sign of infection. 

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A veterinarian will inspect the wound, clean and debride it. He or she may have to take an X-ray or ultrasound to determine if there is any synovial joint leakage. 

If the joint leaks, the vet may flush it with sterile saline. Samples may also be taken to determine the level of possible infection. Regional limb perfusions deliver antibiotics directly to blood vessels in the joint. A horse may need to be referred to a clinic to have additional care. 

Though most joint infections clear up in two days, some can take significantly longer, especially if treatment is delayed. 

Read more at The Horse.  

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