26 August 2008 11:31
My horse has just been diagnosed with slipping patellas. What can I do to help him?
By Your Horse
Vet Malene Jørgensen advises:
There are two conditions of the patellas (stifles), which could fit your horse’s condition:
● This is a rare condition in which the patella slips sideways – it can follow joint disease or trauma to the stifle.
● Symptoms are hindlimb lameness, stifle swelling and abnormal gait.
● Treatment is surgery on the ligaments around the joint capsule.
● Prognosis for an athletic career for the horse is bleak.
Upward fixation of the patella
In the most severe cases, the leg becomes stuck in extension and the patella is ‘locked’. This is often due to poor conformation or condition and is usually seen in younger horses.
● Symptoms are an audible clicking, jerky gait during transition from stifle extension to flexion (seen most often in trot) and the limb can be held in a backwards, locked, extension.
● Symptoms worsen on tight circles or on a slope, and the horse drags his toe.
● Treatment and prevention include raised heel shoes, keeping the horse in regular work and, if the leg is locked, a vet can show you how to free the patella manually.
● Prognosis is good to fair.Other options could include stifle joint disease, ruptured patella ligaments or other ligament injuries, stringhalt, or conditions in the bone surrounding the joint. Ask your vet for advice and to be referred if necessary.