They have critical structural, shock absorbing and slinging functions in the lower limb. They are under tremendous tension as the horse bears weight.
Tendons and ligament injuries Tendon injuries Tendons are the strap-like elastic structures that attach muscles to the bones of which they act on.
Most tendons are relatively short and rarely damaged. However the long tendons of the limbs are vulnerable to damage during exercise or as a result of trauma. The flexor tendons are the most important structures of which are discussed below.
At the level of the knee and hock along with the fetlock and pastern region the tendons are enclosed by a fluid filled sheath. Several strong, short annular ligaments help to keep the tendons in place in regions of high movement such as joints.
The tendons themselves are composed of longitudinally arranged bundles of fibres. Blood supply to tendons and ligaments are poor compared to muscles and other tissues.
The different types of tendon injuries Injury to these tendons commonly occurs during exercise. Strenuous exercise can result in tearing of fibres especially in unfit horses. Even fit horses which are over stretching tendons in fast work or on unlevel ground or during jumping at speed can damage these structures.
The degree of damage can range from minor, with minimal fibre damage to severe with total tendon rupture.
Most frequently, a proportion of fibres are damaged in a localised area within the tendon called a zone. This may form a discrete hole which extends for a variable length of the tendon. A knock to a tendon may result in slight bruising or severe damage leading to tendon rupture.
Sharp trauma which cuts through the skin can vary from minor tendon damage to partial or full thickness laceration of the tendon. If a tendon sheath is involved these can lead to potentially life threatening infection if not dealt with promptly.
First signs of tendon injury Damage to a tendon usually results in inflammation which we commonly feel as heat and swelling.
Minor fibre damage leads to slight enlargement of the affected part of the tendon which feels warmer than the corresponding area of the opposite limb. Mild sprains often do not cause lameness. If there is severe damage, the limb can become very painful, with the toe tipped upwards or the fetlock may sink at the walk.
In cases of tendon sheath sepsis the horse will also be very lame. Diagnosis of tendon injuries If you suspect that your horse has a tendon injury, you should call the clinic for advice and an appointment. A clinical examination will help to confirm or alleviate concerns by looking for heat, pain on palpation.
The extent of damage by look and palpation is difficult to assess accurately. An ultrasound scan approximately one week after injury will allows us to visualise the damaged structure s if they are above the hoof capsule.
Treatment options There are several different treatment options for tendon injuries of which none provide guaranteed permanent return to soundness. Damaged tendon heals with irregularly arranged fibres and scar tissue are less elastic than the original structure.
Thus the repair is weaker and more prone to re-injury than healthy tendon. Initial treatment in the days after an injury usually involves: Anti-inflammatories such as Bute to aid in reduction of swelling and provide pain relief.
These steps are aimed at reducing the initial inflammation and pain along with preventing any further injury. Once the initial inflammation has stabilised and confirmation of the severity of injury a controlled exercise program can be started.
Controlled exercise This is the most important aspect of recuperation and treatment. Your vet will advise you what is best for a particular injury but will generally start with hand walking while still on box rest with gradual increases every one to two weeks for a period of three months.The flexor tendons are situated in the hind legs, and consist of the superficial digital flexor tendon and the deep digital flexor tendon.
Both are sited along the cannon bone, with the former going into the pastern bone and the DDFT reaching the coffin bone.
The flexor tendons which are the deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT) and the superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT) run down the back of the limb from the level of the knee/hock. As with tendon injuries there is often heat, pain and swelling in the region of injury. Common Ligament injuries in the horse include: Suspensory ligament desmitis.
Apr 09, · Re: deep digital flexor tendon injury I dont know how your vet has diagnosed this but, we have a horse who was diagnosed with scintigraphy with DDFT inflammation at the attachment to the pedal bone. Oct 13, · On Monday my horse was diagnosed with a deep digital flexor tendon injury.
We were at a show this past weekend and halfway through a class he started dragging his left hind. The flexor tendons (deep digital flexor tendon, DDFT, and superficial digital flexor tendon, SDFT) run down the back of the leg from the level of the knee (or hock).
Dec 29, · The deep digital flexor tendon is capable of more mobilization than the other flexor tendons. Its movement causes retraction, which propels a horse forward.
It also provides support to the fetlock.