Horses are a little different than dogs or cats, or almost any other pet you might have. Horses are much, much bigger, meaning they weigh much, much more! Of course, the weight depends on the type of horse, but an average light adult can weight around 1,000 pounds or 450 kg. An average draft horse can weigh upwards of twice that number.
The point behind these numbers is: assuming the injured tendon is located somewhere in the leg or shoulder; it’s either helping support all that weight, or helping move all that weight.
What are Tendons?
Tendons are made of connective tissue, connecting muscle to bone. This is important to remember since they can often be confused with ligaments which help to connect bones to other bones, joints, etc.
If you were to completely sever (or cut) a tendon on a live animal, he wouldn’t have use of the particular bone that tendon attaches to or the muscle that tendon connects a bone to. The brain can tell the muscle to flex, but the muscle isn’t connected to anything, so the bone that muscle is meant to move- doesn’t move. This is an extreme case; there are many tendons and many different degrees of injury.
Tendon is a fibrous band of connective tissue attaching a muscle to either bone or cartilage.
Running down the back of the leg from the knee (or hock) level, damage to the deep digital flexor tendon and/or superficial digital flexor tendon can be common for horses that aren’t fit during moderately strenuous exercise.
Even fit horses can suffer from these injuries during hard work on uneven ground, or from jumping work!
Usually, only a portion of the tendon is injured, but total tendon rupture can occur in severe cases. Cuts can also cause injuries.
Injuries to the tendon sheath can subsequently result in infection, which can even be life-threatening.
Signs and Symptoms of Horse Tendon Injury
The first signs you’ll see with tendon damage will often be inflammation and swelling. Meaning there is increased blood flow to the area. The injured portion of the horse’s limb might feel warmer to the touch. Severe injuries can lead to lameness, but mild strains won’t cause this in fit horses.
Tendon injuries require immediate veterinary attention, even only for a diagnosis to prevent further injury!
Tendonitis is inflammation of the tendon, not necessarily caused by a tear or rupture. On the other hand, either of those injuries will almost certainly cause inflammation and swelling.
Available Horse Tendon Injury Treatments
A damaged tendon heals with the production of irregularly arranged fibers. Even with medication and a veterinarian’s attention, ‘most’ tendon injuries need at least three months of exercise restriction (ex. Walking hand in hand, or using a horse walker). Therefore, it is crucial to choose the most effective horse tendon injury treatment way.
Anti-inflammatory Treatments and Rest
In the early stages, the use of ‘cold’, bandage wrapping, and anti-inflammatory medications can be useful. Rest is very important; your veterinarian will advise you on the amount of stall rest needed.
Though there are many treatments, resting the injured area is likely the most important.
Horse Tendon ‘Splitting’
Though this doesn’t improve healing time, some veterinarians will recommend tiny cuts into the damaged area (by the veterinarian), allowing improved drainage of inflammatory fluid.
Tendon Firing (Still Widely Used Today)
Even though many consider it inhumane, and scientific evidence suggests it isn’t actually beneficial, a hot iron is sometimes used to ‘burn through’ the damaged tendon and provoke healing. The experience is very painful for the animal. It can be done only by an experienced veterinarian in case a professional doctor has recommended this treatment.
Applying a chemical irritant to the skin, promoting inflammation and rest, is another used practice with a lack of scientific support, like tendon firing above.
Though these are all options people use to try and ‘speed up’ the healing process, unfortunately still commonly used despite causing increased pain to the animal and opening them to the possibility of infection. Therefore, we don’t recommend these harmful and scientifically unapproved methods. In the end, rest is the best medicine you can offer an injured horse, along with veterinary attention.
Platelet-Rich Plasma Solution
One of the modern-day horse leg injury treatment options that can serve as an alternative to previously mentioned painful and not scientifically approved methods.
The essence of this treatment lays in blood plasma and platelets in it which are full of growth factors. These growth factors promote the improvement of damaged tissues and therefore horse tendon injury recovery. However, Platelet-Rich Plasma comparing to solutions like Stem Cell Therapy provides not so long-lasting results.
Equine Stem Cell Therapy: Pain-Free Life
Animal Stem Cell Therapy is a novice and unprecedented effective solution for horse tendon injury recovery that is taking over the veterinary industry.
Stem cells are naturally occurring cells in the body. They are derived either from your horse (Autologous Stem Cell Therapy) or young and healthy donor (Allogeneic Stem Cell Therapy). Although both types are similarly effective we recommend using Autologous therapy. Because it can promote slightly more effective outcomes, it’s cheaper, faster and there is no necessity for an invasive procedure to your horse.
Therapy consists of a simple and safe injection procedure held by a veterinarian. After it, stem cells move to the damaged tissue, regenerate them, cause new tissue to grow and suppress inflammation.
Thereby, stem cells help to prevent pain, lameness and other problems caused by a horse tendon injury including its recurrence.
Overall Stem Cell Therapy eliminates the problem at its core.
Moreover, first Medrego EquiCell Stem Cell Therapy results can be seen even after a few weeks. Additionally, they can reach up to a 90% success rate with a long-lasting positive impact. As a result, you will not only save your horse but also save money and crucial time.
There is no ‘one true answer’ when it comes to injuries, and the healing time they require. Of course, there are basic guidelines, but every horse is different! That being said, ‘most’ horses will ‘usually’ require about three months to heal.
Location & Severity of Injury
Minor tendon injuries will heal quicker than full-blown tears. Potential infection can prolong healing.
Movement vs. Rest
Initial treatment is often given over the course of the following 15 days. However, a three month rest period is usually recommended.
Shortening or avoiding rest period can not only increase chances for further injury but lengthen the time required for healing.
Just like for humans, age plays a huge role in both the injury and healing process for animals. Older horses are more likely to injure themselves over the same activities animals would perform in their prime. Older horses also tend to heal at a slower pace.
Tendon injuries can sometimes take nine to twelve months to heal, with a recommended rest period of at least three months (six to ten months to heal, depending on the source).
Don’t Rush the Healing!
The basic Approved and Veterinarian Recommended treatment plan for any tendon injury recovery is close to the same; reduce inflammation and stress on the injured area, minimizing damage. You’ll notice that some of the still popular treatments listed above, used to ‘speed up’ the healing process, can actually cause more damage to uninjured areas. Therefore, consult your veterinarian and Medrego experienced team in order to find the best solution for your friend!