New treatment explores biologic therapies to repair joint tissue in horses

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Could biologic therapies be the future for treating joint disease? Ontario Veterinary College researcher Dr Mark Hurtig and his team are investigating novel new methods to potentially repair tissue rather than just suppressing the signs of joint disease.

In the above video, Hurtig explains the mechanism and contributing factors to fetlock chip fractures, which can be related to the surface that the horse works on and the intensity of that work.

Dr Mark Hurtig

As a rider and veterinarian, he provides some precautions when resuming training of a horse:

  • Return to exercise slowly and incrementally with lots of walking
  • When introducing trotting avoid hard surfaces.
  • Avoid complex moves at first – promote relaxation.
  • Allow an adaptation time when working on new surfaces and cross-train on the surfaces your horse will be working on.

Regarding the period of time required before a horse is ready for harder work, Hurtig advises at least three months of preparation could be undertaken before the horse is ready for high-level performance. It can also take up to a year to get ligaments and tendons ready for Olympic-level sport.

“It depends on the biomechanical challenge to their muscular-skeletal system,” Hurtig says.

Hurtig is excited about his research on intra-articular therapies that use direct injection into the joint as a targeted therapy but cautions against injections used for maintenance or as a preventative measure.

» Check out Equine Guelph’s free healthcare tools Lameness Lab and Journey through the Joints.

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