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Dan C., DVM
Dan C., DVM, Veterinarian
Category: Large Animal Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 1174
Experience:  Equine Practitioner. Owner of Mobile Equine/Large Animal Practice for 16 years.
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My Horse has a pulled tendon in his left front leg. What is

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My Horse has a pulled tendon in his left front leg. What is the best treatment besides stall rest, bute and mineral ice?



I'm sorry to hear about your horse's condition. I need to ask you a few questions in order to help.


1): How old, and what breed is your horse?


2): How long ago did the injury occur?


3): On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being non-weight bearing, how lame would you judge your horse to be?


4): Do you know which tendon is injured, and where on the leg the injury is located?


Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX'm looking forward to hearing from you!


Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Toi is a 14 year old half arab/ NSH gelding. He was hurt outside fooling around with another one of my horses last wednesday. He's about a 3 on the lameness scale. He has some heat on the inside of his foreleg going down through his hoof. I've been rubbing himdown with mineral ice and have had him on stall rest for about 2 days and the heat has decreased tremendously.

HiCustomer and thanks for getting back to me:


Without being able to examine your horse, I can't give you a definitive diagnosis, however based on your description of his condition it's most likley either the superficial or deep digital flexor tendon that is affected. Of course the best route of treatment is to begin with an ultrasound exam performed by your vet, to determine the extent and exact location of the injury. This, of course, will give you the best idea of how long it may take to heal. The majority of treatments for these types of injuries, however, are not much different than what you are already doing. I will usually recommend employing a "sweat" wrap, which is a treatment I'll leave on overnight during the initial phase of treatment. There are different varieties of sweats, but I will normally use DMSO on the area of the injury, followed by several layers of saran wrap, then several layers of roll cotton held in place by brown gauze, and then overall a polo wrap can be used to finish. This will produce a fair amount of heat on the injured tendon, and is often effective in reducing the swelling and inflammation. If the swelling/inflammation is severe, it's aceptable to repeat the process for several nights in a row. Following removal of the sweat I recommend cold water therapy, which consists of cold water from the garden hose applied to the leg for at least 15 minutes. Studies have shown that it takes this amount of time for the temperature to reduce to a therapeutic level. Following water, a good support wrap along with the stall rest is the remainder of the treatment. It's OK to use some type of brace, or stringent, underneath the support wrap, such as Absorbine Junior or a dilute mixture of Listerene and water. Bute therapy, for an average sized horse (1100 pounds) should not exceed more than one gram twice daily.


Depending on the severity of the injury, stall rest may be anywhere from a few weeks to several months, and this is where an ultrasound evaluation plays an important part.


There are also other modes of treatment available including shockwave and laser therapies, hopwever the cost for these treatments is often prohibitive. If possible, check with your vet to see what may be available in your area if these are something that interest you.


So you're definitely on the right track. As the heat has decreased significantly in your horse's case, I'll hope that the injury is not too severe, and that you can get back to some riding soon.


I hope I've helped, and please let me know if you have any further questions.


Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX of luck!




(I apologize for the delay in my response, I've been having some computer problems.)

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