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A Physiotherapists top tips on managing arthritis in your horse

Arthritis is an unwanted diagnosis for anyone regardless of age, occupation or even species! In horses weather the condition appears suddenly after a trauma or gradually with worsening stiffness, it means the same thing: Chronic inflammation has lead to permenant degradation of the cartilage in a horse‘s joints. Often very painful it needs to be managed to help the patient remain active for longer and enjoy a better quality of life.

Here are my tips on managing the condition.

  • Discuss modern treatments and painkillers with your vet, early treatment and reduction of inflammation can often

  • hugely delay the inevitable onset and reduce secondary compensatory issues.

  • Keep them as active as possible! Work with your physio & vet to establish a exercise regime that works, stimulating circulation is the key while minimizing the risks of overuse and the inflammation it brings. Spend longer on your warm up and cool down.

  • Have hooves trimmed regularly. Timely hoof care is important for all horses but especially so for those with arthritis, regular trimming minimizes joint strain.

  • Optimise turnout. Moving around in a paddock or all weather turn out also provides exercise that reduces stiffness and allows the horse to move at his own pace.

  • Manage your horse's weight. As a horse's activity levels diminish, his weight is likely to increase, and additional pounds place more stress on joints.

  • Regular physiotherapy sessions, involving massage and stretching to increase blood flow, encourage nutrient circulation and aid with joint health and mobility. Your physio will also monitor your horse for any possible compensatory soreness.

  • Consult a nutritionist or vet for advice on supplements.

  • Keep joins warm during very cold, wet and damp weather, using leg wraps or stable bandages, heat pads, special blankets. Avoid hosing legs and leaving to dry naturally.

It is important to remember that every situation is different and with modern veterinary intervention and ongoing attention to lifestyle, diet and exercise, horses with arthritis can live comfortable, almost normal lives.

Please remember these tips should in no way replace or contradict veterinary advice, and any concerns should be discussed with your regular vet.

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