Suspensory Ligament Injuries

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  • The limb should be kept in a stable bandage when not being treated with cold therapy. Avoid the use of topical medications that generate heat. The goal is to minimize inflammation, not to create it.
  • All handwalking and turnout is forbidden until a veterinary consult can be obtained.
  • If your horse develops an acute lameness in conjunction with the swelling, consult your veterinarian immediately. It is necessary to treat some suspensory injuries on an emergency basis.
  • It is important that you adhere to your veterinarian's treatment plan. Failure to do so often leads to protracted healing and unsatisfactory long-term results. Even under the best of circumstances suspensory injuries carry a guarded prognosis for long-term future soundness. Reinjury is common.
  • Prevention is not always possible in competitive horses. The chances of injury can be reduced by making sure horses are physically trained prior to participating in strenuous events.
  • Other sites of unsoundness (lameness associated with arthritis of a joint) should be addressed. Failure to do so results in the horse bearing more weight on the other sound limbs. The sound limbs because they are bearing more of the horse's weight are more prone to excessive strain due to overloading.
  • Make a habit of observing and palpating the horse's limbs on a routine basis. This will allow you to learn what is normal for your horse and to identify subtle changes when they occur.
  • A veterinary consult is recommended for all horses that develop swelling in the region of the suspensory tendons or within the digital flexor tendon sheath, regardless of the duration of the swelling or the degree of the animal's soundness.

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