What are Chondromalacia of the Femoral Condyles?
Chondromalacia of the femoral condyles occurs when the cartilage of the bony protrusion on each side of the femur bone deteriorates and becomes softer. This is becoming more recognized in sport horses who may perform poorly and show lameness in their hind limbs (one or both). The pain that the horse is experiencing is attributable to the stifle, which is a complex hinge joint located in the horse’s upper hind limb. Often, the decrease in the horse’s performance is apparent in younger horses as they begin working harder and harder.
Resulting from deteriorating cartilage of the femoral condyle, chondromalacia of the femoral condyle is seen in sports horses and evidenced by a decrease in performance.
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Symptoms of Chondromalacia of the Femoral Condyles in Horses
Should your horse be experiencing chondromalacia of the femoral condyles, the following symptoms may be seen:
- Hind-limb lameness (either in one or both hind limbs)
- Decrease in performance
- Mild effusion of the medial femorotibial and femoropatellar joints
In many cases there are not visible signs present in the femoral condyles.
Chondromalacia of the femoral condyle is a type of stifle abnormality. Other types of stifle abnormality include IUFP, bone and joint disorders, osteochondrosis, subchondral bone cysts, osteoarthritis and soft tissue injuries.
Causes of Chondromalacia of the Femoral Condyles in Horses
As chondromalacia of the femoral condyle seems to be a condition among sport horses, significant running and overuse seem to cause the condition.
Diagnosis of Chondromalacia of the Femoral Condyles in Horses
Should you notice a decrease in your horse’s performance along with lameness in his hind legs, you will want to contact your veterinarian and schedule an appointment for your horse to be examined. Your veterinarian will conduct an examination of your horse and ask you about the symptoms that you have noticed, when you noticed them and if there have been any changes in the symptoms over time. Typically, with chondromalacia of the femoral condyles, radiology or ultrasonography will not show any anomalies. Upon arthroscopic examination, when looking at the femorotibial joints, your veterinarian will notice that the cartilage is atypically soft, abnormal, cracked and not well attached over the entire of part of the femoral condyles.
Treatment of Chondromalacia of the Femoral Condyles in Horses
Horses that are experiencing chondromalacia have a guarded prognosis in regards to whether they will be able to achieve the same level of athletic ability as they had prior to the condition. It is believed more study is necessary to understand the best way to resolve the condition surgically in order to ensure the best outcome for your horse.
Recovery of Chondromalacia of the Femoral Condyles in Horses
Horses that are diagnosed with chondromalacia of the medial femoral condyle are significantly more likely to either be considered lame and not be participating in ridden work 12 to 18 months after diagnosis.
Should your horse be diagnosed with this condition, it is important to follow the recommendations of your veterinarian. There is, unfortunately, not a lot of information available on best methods of treatment and management for the condition; discussion with your equine veterinarian is recommended before deciding when and if your horse can return to normal activity.