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Equine Diseases - DJD
DJD or Degenerative joint disease is a type of osteoarthritis which causes lameness in affected horses and is one of the most common causes of lameness in sport horses.
DJD develops when the cartilage protecting the bones of the joint is destroyed.
The joints most commonly affected are the
upper knee joint,
coffin joints in the forefeet
spine, including the neck and back.
DJD alters the bone and soft tissues of the joint. The cartilage may wear out, resulting in bone-on-bone grinding and reduced mobility.
The symptoms of Equine DJD include:
CAUSES OF EQUINE DJD
Some of the causes of DJD are
TREATMENT OF EQUINE DJD
Your vet will be able to diagnose DJD fairly quickly. In more severe cases, the use of "stress" views may be necessary. Radiography and Bone scans may also be used if your vet wishes to get a more detailed picture of the joint affected.
Medical treatment includes Analgesic and Anti-inflammatory medications. The range is wide and includes
Acetaminophen – this is a pain reliever for mild to moderate pain. Doses should be kept low as too much can cause liver damage.
Nsaids (non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs) – to reduce pain and swelling of the joints and improve mobility by decreasing stiffness. These reduce pain as well as inflammation. They need to be taken with caution as there are many long term side-effects which you should discuss with you vet.
Cortisone - a corticosteroid. For severe cases, cortisone may be injected directly into the affected joint. This has a much more powerful anti-inflammatory effect and can provide immediate relief for a badly affected joint.
Visco-Supplementation – a gel-like substance is injected into the joint lubricating the cartilage thus providing all round relief from the symptoms of DJD and promoting increased mobility
These medications do not cure the DJD itself. Although your horse can appear very much improved due to the relief from pain, they should be used short term and used in conjunction with changes to your horse's lifestyle which will really bring the best long term benefits.
This is where you come into your own! Changes in your horse's lifestyle and environment will have to be undertaken. Following are tried and true methods of treating DJD.
Bioflavonoids, including those made from Camellia sinensis and Vitis vinifera
Glucosamine, a nutritional supplement which many people take for their own knee pain.
Organic MSM – a form of sulphur
Vitamin CThere are many excellent companies providing these supplements. You can search for them online. They give wonderful information on their product ranges. This research on your part coupled with the opinion of your vet and your own knowledge of your horse and his symptoms, will help give you the best tools to instigate and maintain the best possible lifestyle programme for your DJD affected horse.