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The hardest thing for this sort of injury is that your horse is a heavy animal and by nature they don’t lie down for long. Due to this factor, the issue when a horse experiences a fracture of the carpal bone is keeping the stress off the damaged bones while they are healing. Carpal fractures are the most common cause of lameness in your horse. Treatment of this condition depends largely on the site of the fracture and the extent of the damage. New advances in technology have allowed many of these types of injuries to be fixed.
A fracture can occur through trauma during exercise, especially if on uneven ground, that causes a crack or fissure.
If you notice your horse stumble and then begin to limp, it is vital to dismount if you are riding your horse, and stop him from any further major movement. You may notice the carpal swelling shortly afterwards, and it is recommended that you call your veterinarian to ascertain the amount of damage done. Diagnosis will be from an external examination at first as your veterinary specialist will try to flex the joint and feel around it for signs of fragments or chips. The joint it is a very complex structure with many small bones and ligaments making up the three main joints. It is the veterinarian’s task to determine where the injury is and to what extent. The most useful techniques to discover where the injury is come from the use of x-rays and ultrasound. By using these techniques, your veterinarian will be able to see what part of the bones are fractured or if there is a chip off the bone that is causing a problem. It may be a type of osteoarthritis of the knee joints that may be causing the fractures; this can be seen via the x-ray or ultrasound.
If your horse suffers from osteoarthritis of the knee, treatment is often using injections of medication into the joint, and relies on rest and anti-inflammatory medication to assist healing. In severe cases, if your horse is not used for breeding, the fusing of the joints may provide relief from lameness. For carpal chip injury, your horse may be treated by removal of the chip of bone that is causing damage to the surrounding tissue. This can be done via keyhole surgery or arthroscopy, and provides a good insurance against your horse developing further arthritis in that joint. If the chip is tiny, medications can improve the healing without the need for surgery. It all depends on where the fracture is, the age of your horse and the severity of any arthritis present.
Depending on the location and severity of the injury, treatment for your horse is usually straightforward with an excellent recovery rate. Most horses can recover to full performance. Your horse will need time though to recover fully, and a period of box confinement and rest is essential; this can take between two and three months. Your horse may need an injection of joint blocking medication to ease the pain to begin with. As your horse heals and at your veterinarian’s advice, you can then start retraining with walking to begin with, and then progress to a trot after healing. As your horse recovers, you can slowly increase the exercise until he can fully trot or gallop again.
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Fracture of the Carpal Bones Average Cost
From 300 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $8,000
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My 15 yr old mare fractured the carpal bone in her right foreleg on 22nd May 2019. She also had sepsis in the joint that was at 11 on the scale. It was an incredibly serious field injury and she was critically injured. Within a week of being on iv antibiotics the sepsis had reduced to 5. She was in a plaster cast for 3 weeks and at the next X ray when her cast was removed the carpal bone had healed perfectly. Within a day of having her cast removed she was walking for a few minutes. Within a week she is walking along the lane for grass and back again.
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