Horse Veterinary Questions? Ask an Equine Vet.
Hello, Riptide's Mom!
Sorry to hear about Riptide's condition. Shoe boils (elbow hygromas) can be a frustrating condition, but are normally not a problem that is going to affect gait or performance. I fyou find that Riptide has any lameness associated with the boil, I would recommend Veterinary intervention soon, as it could be suggestive of a fracture of muscle damage.
If this condition has not been long-standing, there is sometimes good success in getting them to reduce with the use of cold water compresses, followed in a few days by having your vet drain the boil followed with the injection of an anti-inflammatory. If the condition has been present for some time, however, surgery is often required as the contents of the boil may have become fibrous and resembling scar tissue.
Occasionally, some will reduce completely on their own if no further iriitation is present. It is difficult to tell you how long it may be before Riptide's boil reduces in size however, as they all behave differently and have different contributing factors. As mentioned previously, as long as there is no associated lameness with the elbow, there is no reason that Riptide can not be ridden. Be careful, and try to avoid any possibility of her scraping or damaging the boil, as doing so could open up the chance of a bacterial infection.
I hope this has helped, and please let me know if you have any further questions.
Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX of luck!
Hi Riptide's Mom:
Thanks for the accept, but I'm sorry if you felt my answer was too vague. I strive to be as thorough and complete as possible, and leave my posts open with asking you to let me know if you have any further questions. I would rather you don't accept if my answer has not been helpful to you.
I'm unsure as to which point is unclear, or vague for you, and I would like everything to be as clear as possible. If you need a definite time frame as to when the boil will reduce in size, I attempted to explain that that is not possible, as there are many factors involved that can affect healing; such as length of time the boil has been present, if she has had boils before, if there is any possibility of her re-injuring or irritating the area while lying down, and her own body's metabolism is involved as well, as no two horses are the same in that aspect. And yes, it is safe to ride her, as long as she is not lame on that limb. Again, I can't tell you if it will be reduced in size enough to show her for the reasons mentioned above. If the show is next week, chances are it will not have reduced significantly, however if the show is next month and she doesn't re-injure it it may be small enough. That can depend on the type of show and activity, however, and I do not have that information.
If you have further questions please let me know, and as you have already paid for an answer I don't feel you should be asked to pay again. I would like you to feel that you have gotten your money's worth.
Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX look forward to hearing from you.
Thanks for getting back to me!
The fact that the boil appears to be softening is a favorable sign, as it indicates that fluid may be forming that can be drained. Although her play habits are not conducive to creating a rapid healing environment, I see no reason as to why this should make the boil worsen. If anything, it may help to encourage softening of the swelling within the boil. Also, as she has not had a large boil while in your possession, this also increases the chance that it can be resolved.
So to answer your question, yes, there are treatments that can be tried. The cold water poultice is usually attempted first, along with DMSO, which is a potent topical anti-inflammatory. With the size of her boil, however, chances of it reducing with just poulticing are low. I would recommend perhaps having another vet take a look if there is one in your area. By inserting a needle into the boil, it will be able to be determined if there is a major fluid pocket underneath the skin that can be drained. If so, the boil can be drained using either a large gauge needle or a small stab incision. Following drainage, a pressure bandage needs to be applied to help prevent the fluid from re-forming. There is the challenge, especially as Riptide is so active in her paddock. I would recommend using a tape called Elastikon, which is a stretchable adhesive tape with excellent adhesive characteristics. I have seen people get very creative in their bandaging! When treating knee boils (carpal), I will often inject a steroid directly into the area which was just drained. This can help to knock out any residual inflammation, which is the major source of the fluid collection. Some practitioners also recommend the insertion of rubber tubing through the boil while it is bandaged, which can help to keep the drain hole open, preventing fluid build-up while the incision heals. As a last resort, surgical resection of the boil is attempted, which entails opening the boil and removing any residual scar tissue and excess skin, then bandaging for a period of 10-14 days while the site heals.
So yes, you do have options. I hope you can find a vet that will work with you, and I'll be sending you good thoughts that all will be resolved. I've included two links for you that discuss this condition in further detail. If you are unable to read the first link, I recommend registering for the site, as it is free, and contains much useful information concerning horse health.
Please let me know if you have any more questions.