The strength and agility of horses are, in part, a function of the robust muscular framework they posses. Typical of this is the tendon and ligaments, which help to hold joints together in place.
However, in most cases, a single misstep by a horse is enough to cause an injury to the tendon and ligament. Once this happens, you can tell that there is an impending problem, especially in a horse’s performance including sports.
An injury to the tendon and ligament of a horse usually leads to a long journey of recovery. Moreover, with these injuries come the high risk of their recurrence to the affected horse tendon or ligament.
The healing process typically is time-consuming, expensive, frustrating, and devastating.
You may ask what is devastating and time-consuming about tendon and ligament treatment in a horse. The traditional and conventional horse ligament and tendon injury treatment methods seem to concern horse owners and veterinarians. Therefore it is crucial to develop and use newer treatment methods.
Common Tissues Injuries in Horses
Most commonly injured soft tissue structures in the limbs of racing horses are the superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT). Likewise deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT), suspensory ligament and its associated branches. As well as accessory ligaments of the DDFT (also known as the check ligaments).
Similarly, soft tissue injuries around the distal limb are also common injuries that are known to predispose horses to other limb injuries. For instance, suspensory ligament injury is a common predisposing factor to catastrophic injuries in horses. This also causes fracture of the lateral metacarpal condyle (the distal part of the cannon bone).
Current Treatment Advances for Tendon and Ligament Injuries in Horses
In the quest to find a quicker and better treatment option, a lot of novel and innovative techniques have discovered.
Most of the novel treatment methods come with high throughput in terms of healing when compared to the traditional methods.
The following solutions are among the latest technologies and treatment methods used in the treatment of injury to the tendon and ligament in horses.
Stem Cell Therapy for Horse Tendon and Ligament Injuries
Stem Cell Therapy is one of the newest solutions, which is a very effective treatment for various health complications in animals. This approach uses undifferentiated mesenchymal stem cells within the body of a horse. They are capable of giving rise to different types of cells with multiple functions in the body.
Cells for therapy can be derived from the specific patient (autologous therapy) or healthy, young and powerful donor (allogeneic therapy). In the treatment of tendon and ligament injury in a horse, veterinarians recommend allogeneic stem cells. Although both types are similarly effective allogeneic therapy is slightly more effective, faster, cheaper and easier for everyone
It’s a simple and easy injection procedure in which a veterinarian injects cells into the damaged area. Afterward, they move to inflamed or damaged tissue, suppress inflammation and cause new tissue to grow.
Therapy can help to deal with tendon or ligament injury caused pain, other consequences like lameness, swollenness and movement intolerance. Even more, it can help to prevent the condition itself.
Currently, Stem Cell Therapy stands as one of the most effective treatment approaches for injuries of the superficial digital flexor tendon. It is also an effective treatment for horse suspensory ligament injuries. Additionally, the Stem Cell Treatment approach is known to have a low risk of re-injury comparing with conventional treatment approaches.
This method has a huge potential to promote healing by stimulating the production of collagen and the organization of collagen fibers. Once this happens, the tendon will have normal structure and composition. In order to get the best from Stem Cell Technology for your injured horse, consult a vet. A veterinarian will provide the correct diagnosis, treatment and after therapy plan to avoid re-injury.
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)
Another trendy treatment approach for injuries to the tendon and ligaments in horses is the platelet-rich plasma therapy. As the name suggests, this method utilizes the blood plasma in which fraction contains a sufficient amount of platelets. Platelets in the plasma are important because they are highly rich in growth factors. For instance, platelets-derived growth factor, transforming growth factor-β as well as other proteins, that helps to stimulate t
Nevertheless, the PRP treatment technique is considered to be relatively very safe since the biological product (whole blood sample) is collected directly from the injured horse. Also, the PRP therapy method can be used effectively as a single treatment process to treat injured tendons and ligaments in a horse. It can also be used in conjunction with other treatments like Stem Cell Therapy or other conventional treatment methods.
Comparing to Stem Cell Therapy the lifetime of growth factors in PRP is just few minutes.
So it is hard to compare such treatments, as Stem Cells work and do their job in the longterm.
Scaffold-based therapy is yet another novel and trending approach for the treatment of injured tendon and ligament in horses. Similar to the PRP therapy in which growth factors in platelets are used in healing an injured horse, the scaffold-based therapy works in the same pattern.
In this case, a small healing ecosystem around the wound is created with lots of growth factors with the necessary signals which are required to speed up the healing of the affected tendon or ligament.
So, this technique can as well be said is a safe treatment approach.
Laser therapy is another current technology that is safe and effective in the treatment of injuries to soft tissues. Including tendon and ligaments in horses and other vertebrates.
The effectiveness of laser therapy is shown to increase the production of collagen. This protein is a major component of soft tissues.
With the presence of collagen produced by a laser, the alignment of collagen fibers around the injured tendon and ligament can take place smoothly. Therefore leading to quick healing and strengthening of the tendons.
Similarly, laser therapy is found to reduce the effect of pro-inflammatory mediators around an injured tendon or ligament.
Injuries to horse tendons and ligaments, like any injury to any other part of a horse, is a very serious problem that requires the best treatment approach. To ensure that you are on the right track to give your horse the best treatment, you need to consult a veterinarian. A vet will help you with the right diagnosis and treatment choice.
Additionally, it is worth to consult Medrego expert that will provide answers to your questions, and advise the best treatment option in order to specifically help your horse.
In addition to before mentioned methods, for quicker healing, you can use products like chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine, omega-3 fatty acids. They will promote that tendon and ligament injuries to your horse are going to heal in a