Last Updated on January 4, 2023
Have you ever wondered how to best heal tendon sheath injury on extensor tendons on a horse? Tendon sheath injuries in horses can be very problematic, taking a long time to heal. Let’s find out everything you need to know about diagnosing and treating a horse extensor tendon injury!
What Is A Tendon Sheath Injury?
The limbs of a horse a complex anatomical structures that contain many different types of tissues. The tendons are incredibly strong cord-like structures that connect muscle to bone. The main tendons in a horse’s leg are found in the lower leg – below the knees in the forelegs, and hocks in the hind legs.
Tendons are able to withstand huge amounts of pressure and enable the horse to move its limbs in a strong and powerful manner. The tendons also absorb a considerable amount of the impact when each limb of the horse lands on the ground
Each tendon is surrounded by a protective covering called the tendon sheath. This is an enclosed structure, filled with a viscous fluid that lubricates and protects the tendon. The tendon can glide and move freely within the tendon sheath.
Unfortunately, on some occasions, this tendon sheath can become damaged, and there can be three possible reasons for this.
The first is due to an external injury, such as a cut over the site of the tendon. The second reason is a mechanical injury, such as a strain or tear to the tendon sheath tissue. On some occasions, the tendon sheath may malfunction and fail to produce enough of the essential lubricating fluid, or it may become infected and inflamed.
Whatever the reason for a tendon sheath injury, the effects on the horse are the same. This condition, known as tenosynovitis, causes localized pain and swelling around the affected tendon. If not treated promptly and appropriately, this can lead to long-term lameness and a loss of athletic ability.
Click Here to Get Info About:
- Deep Flexor Tendon Injury In Horses – Causes And Treatments Explained
- What Is White Muscle Disease In Horses?
What Are The Signs Of An Extensor Tendon Sheath Injury In A Horse?
Each limb of the horse contains two sets of tendons, the extensor tendons, and flexor tendons. The flexor tendons run down the back of each limb and help to pull the limb backward and upwards when the horse raises its leg from the floor. The extensor tendons run down the front of the leg and pull the limb forwards and downwards, helping to return the limb to a normal standing position.
Extensor tendon sheath injuries in the horse can also be known as long digital extensor tenosynovitis.
The first sign of tendon injury in horses is normally localized swelling and heat, and the area may be painful to touch. In the case of extensor tendon sheath injuries, this swelling will be on the front of the limb, commonly just below the knee or hock.
This is a common site of injury for horses that participate in showjumping, as they can damage the tendon sheath if they hit a pole or other solid object. This causes swelling and inflammation that can turn into long-term tenosynovitis.
How Are Tendon Sheath Injuries Diagnosed?
A swollen tendon sheath in horses should never be ignored, as this can indicate damage to the tendon sheath and the tendon itself. Tendon injuries in horses are a serious problem that can take a long time to heal, and in some cases may never fully recover.
If your horse is showing signs of a tendon sheath injury such as localized swelling and pain, your veterinarian will carry out a full lameness examination. This may include flexion tests and nerve blocks, to pinpoint the location of the injury.
Diagnostic imaging may be used to determine the extent of the injury. Most commonly this will involve ultrasonography, although more subtle injuries may need more complex techniques at a specialist veterinary hospital.
Take Out Time to Also Read:
- When Does A Horse Stop Growing? – At What Age Exactly?
- Horse Tendon Injury Symptoms, Diagnosis, And Treatment
How To Best Heal Tendon Sheath Injury On Extensor Tendons On A Horse
Unfortunately, long digital extensor tenosynovitis in a horse is unlikely to resolve without medical treatment. A period of rest may reduce the level of swelling and inflammation, but it is rare for the condition to spontaneously resolve without treatment.
When deciding how to best heal tendon sheath injury on extensor tendons on a horse, your veterinarian will weigh up the severity of the injury to determine the best course of action.
The least invasive treatment is to drain the swelling and medicate the tendon sheath with corticosteroids and a synthetic form of tendon sheath fluid. This can be done with just a needle and syringe but must be performed under aseptic conditions to minimize the risk of introducing infection into the tendon sheath.
In other cases, it may necessary to carry out tenoscopy, where a tiny camera and flushing device are placed inside the tendon sheath. The tendon sheath is then flushed through to remove any septic agents and inflammatory cells. The camera can be used to detect any small tears in the tissues of the tendon sheath or the tendon itself.
If the horse is older, the prognosis for a full recovery is lower. In these situations, your veterinarian will need to weigh up the advantages of treatment versus the likelihood of a full return to work. It may be preferable to carry out less invasive treatments where there is no sign of pain or lameness.
Summary – How To Best Heal Tendon Sheath Injury On Extensor Tendons On A Horse
So, as we have learned, deciding on how to best heal tendon sheath injury on extensor tendons on a horse will depend on the severity of the injury and the age of the horse. The most common course of treatment is to drain the excess fluid from tendon sheath and medicate the area. In more severe cases or where sepsis is suspected, a small camera and flushing device can be used to flush out any debris.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on how to best heal tendon sheath injury on extensor tendons on a horse! Have you got a horse that is particularly prone to tendon injuries, no matter what you do? Or maybe you’re a bit worried about a swelling on your horse’s leg and are worried that it might be a tendon injury? Leave a comment below and we will get back to you!
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE