SIGNIFICANT MUSCULOSKELETAL INJURY
Bone or soft tissue injuries can contribute to arthritis in several ways. The first is obvious: Sudden, massive inflammation in the wake of a severe injury can lead to the destruction of cartilage (see “How Arthritis Happens,” page 46) and set the stage for the development of arthritis. Likewise, penetrating injuries, such a puncture wounds, are particularly devastating to joints because they can introduce infectious organisms to the joint space.
Musculoskeletal trauma can increase the likelihood of arthritis in less direct ways as well. The inactivity and loss of conditioning resulting from the stall rest needed for recovery can play a role, for instance. Also, any compensatory postures and movement that the horse uses to spare a sore limb, even for a short period of time, can stress other joints.
If your horse sustains an injury you will, of course, initially focus on helping him recover and heal. But as you do, keep the potential longterm consequences in mind. Ask your veterinarian if there are measures you can take to minimize the risk of arthritis down the line. These may involve feed supplements and/or specific rehabilitation and reconditioning techniques.