Osteochrondrosis - A Cause of Lameness in Young Horses

Yearling and mare out for a walk.
Yearling and mare out for a walk.

Newsdate: Wed October 11, 2017, 1:00 pm

Location: GILROY, California

Often horse owners with young horses are unfamiliar with conditions that can cause lameness in their foal, weanling, or yearling. Osteochondrosis is a condition that affects the articular (joint) cartilage, and often also involves the subchondral bone just beneath the cartilage surface.

A cause of lameness in young horses

A cause of lameness in young horses

Osteochondrosis is a manifestation of developmental orthopedic disease widely recognized in young horses across many breeds.

Young horses usually present with a sudden onset of joint swelling and lameness. A recent increase in the level of exercise is sometimes part of the history. Lameness sometimes may be very mild, with a stiff action and shortened stride. Some more severely affected horses will have a 'bunny hop' action behind that can initially be confused with a neurologic problem.

Approximately 60% of affected horses will be one year of age or less at the time the condition becomes symptomatic, and younger animals that develop clinical signs often have more severe damage within the joint.

Osteochondrosis is a manifestation of developmental orthopedic disease widely recognized in young horses across many breeds. This condition is of particular interest because of its potential to cause joint effusion and lameness in horses preparing for yearling sales or entering training.

Osteochondrosis affects many horses, with estimates that more than 60 percent are found in some radiographic surveys. Although surgical treatment is often a cure, severe or untreated lesions can lead to long-term consequences including lameness.

Despite its great impact on the horse industry, the risk factors contributing to osteochondrosis development are not fully understood. As new findings from researchers emerge, previous theories are being revised, and a more definitive picture of its etiology, genetics, metabolic profile and treatment are on the horizon.

About the Author

Flossie Sellers

As an animal lover since childhood, Flossie was delighted when Mark, the CEO and developer of EquiMed asked her to join his team of contributors.

She enrolled in My Horse University at Michigan State and completed a number of courses in everything related to horse health, nutrition, diseases and conditions, medications, hoof and dental care, barn safety, and first aid.

Staying  up-to-date on the latest developments in horse care and equine health is now a habit, and she enjoys sharing a wealth of information with horse owners everywhere..

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