Managing Equine Arthritis on a Budget
Equine veterinary advances and technologies generally come with a hefty price tag. The economics of diagnosis especially become a concern when treating older horses for osteoarthritis (OA), which can result from years of joint wear.
“For many equine clients it is an economic fact that, while the utilization of advanced diagnostic techniques may provide the ‘gold standard’ in service and diagnostic certainty, they are too expensive,” explained Emma Jones, MA, VetMB, CertES(Orth), MRCVS, from Abbey Equine Centre, in Monmouthshire, U.K.
“In the present economic climate the diagnostic workup may cost in excess of the monetary value of the horse.”
She added that many insurance companies don’t offer life coverage or don’t cover these treatments past a certain age. So she proposed that veterinarians work with owners to extract as much information as possible from routine tests before resorting to diagnostic imaging. “We’re not doing enough with the whole horse basic workup,” she said.
Expert suggested looking for basic clinical signs of osteoarthritis:
- such as increased respiratory rate;
- changes in normal behaviour (such as eating less);
- abnormal behaviours (such as shifting weight);
- and increased behaviours (such as lying down).
When assessing the horse, the veterinarian should use easily gleaned information such as the horse’s history, conformation, joint palpation, a range of motion, heat or pain upon limb flexion, and a comparison of limbs. Further, he or she should evaluate what effect exercise and ground surface have on the horse both immediately (during the lameness exam) and the following day.
As a money-saver, Jones advised caution when using diagnostic regional anesthesia (nerve blocks). “A lack of confidence in block results can lead to overuse of imaging with budget implications,” she said.
She also warned that when taking radiographs (X-rays), the correlation between X-ray results and what is actually going on in the joint can be poor (e.g., a horse with significant lameness might show little change on radiographs, while a horse with no lameness might show significant change on radiographs), and “poor-quality X rays don’t help.”
Ultrasound a great tool for evaluating osteoarthritis (OA) in Horses
Jones believes ultrasound, on the other hand, to be an excellent tool for evaluating OA. “It’s underused, cost-effective, noninvasive, and can detect osteophyte (bony growths at the margins of the joint that form during remodeling) formation,” she explained. She also said that intra-articular anesthesia as part of a diagnostic workup can provide additional information about synovial fluid and its viscosity.
When it comes to treating the condition and the horse’s pain, Jones advised that owners only pursue methods that will either improve athletic function or general welfare.
Ultimately, she believes the best thing owners can do is get the most information from their veterinarians as possible about how to help these horses. For instance, veterinarians can offer a wealth of information about appropriate weight, exercise, farriery, and expectations of future function to help give horses with osteoarthritis the best quality of life.
And here is where the stem cell treatments come in
Horse Stem Cell therapies are currently helping thousands of horses worldwide by not only easing the horse osteoarthritis condition, but also, in some cases, even stopping its progression, improving in this way horses’ movement, overall health condition, as well as significantly improving their quality and joy of life.
Since allogeneic Stem Cell Therapies are easier to produce, and with the fact that first allogeneic stem cell-based medicine has also got attention from European Medicines Agency, horse allogeneic Stem Cell Treatments are becoming even more available for customers both morally and financially. Thus, insurance companies are also now covering stem cell treatments when veterinarian want to use this option.
Our Medrego EquiCell allogeneic Stem Cell treatment has been used to successfully treat more than 450 horses in Europe and the Middle East. Contact us, if you want to order or get more information about our allogeneic Stem Cell Therapy for horse Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, or tendon, ligament, joint or cartilage injury treatment.
If you want to get a veterinarian opinion on horse osteoarthritis treatment with the help of Stem Cell Therapy, you can consult our experts on this topic and get a free consultation.
Original article by Alexandra Beckstett, The Horse Managing Editor.