Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reader Question - Wrapping Tendons

I had a reader write me abut sweating her horse's legs. Apparently her horse was lame and someone told her to sweat the lamed up leg.

I don't have much to go on here, but probably what your friend was alluding to was treatment and wrapping for the tendons, probably the flexor tendons in the back of a horse's leg which are often injured due to their function and extended use. This probably occurs often on the front legs due to much of the horse's weight is carried on the front end and the over reaching motion, such as in thick sand, often contributes to tendon injuries.

Now before I go further, I highly suggest you seek competent Veternarian authority or research more on your own to understand the horse's leg anatomy and the different types and severities of tendons or other leg injuries.

If you run your thumb and fore finger over the flexor tendons in back of the horse's legs they should feel smooth. Sometimes with small inuries there will be alittle swelling or some bumps evident as the tendon sheath tears alittle...could be scar tisue from old injuries too.

A more substantial injury is the "bowed" tendon, where there will be a visible bump or bow in the tendon. If this is not treated competently with anti-inflammation therapy and rest, this can become chronic....your horse won't be the same.

What I do when I suspect a tendon injury, and again if I think it requires a Vet, I will not hestitate to get my excellent Vet out to my small ranch. That's partially why I'm a poor man. Anyway, Hydro (water) therapy, hosing down the legs to reduce swelling and pain is a good first step. And sometimes I do it for a couple days.

Sweating the tendon, which was your question, involves wrapping saran or plastic wrap around the leg to keep the heat in promoting blood flow. Usually after some type of medication is applied.

I use a mixture of NitroFlurazone and DMSO, and using a rubber glove, I apply it to the horse's tendon, rubbing in it as much as the horse will stand. In the past I have use a steroid mixed into the Nitro and DMSO.

Caution on DMSO. Whatever is mix with the DMSO or what is on the surface of the skin will be taken straight through by the DMSO, so the leg must be clean, and again use rubber gloves. There is alot of debate on DMSO. I use it sparingly and I know some people who would rather be trampled by a stampede of draft horses then use DMSO.

Follow the application of medication by wrapping saran wrap around the leg, then a thicker cotton bandage, before I finish the wrap with Vet wrap. It is generally necessary to use medical tape on the vet wrap to secure it really well. The thicker cotton bandgae pads the injury and keeps you from wrapping it too tight with the Vet wrap.

I'll keep this wrap on for 24 hours, take it off and do hydro therapy and keep the wrap off for a day, then do it all over again until I see improvement. The longest I have had to do this was for about six days at which time the horse's lameness appeared to be gone however I gave him an additional week to 10 days of rest before I tested his soundness in a round pen before riding.

Prevention is key. Running your horses up hills and through thick sand can increase thir chances of injury significantly. Think about using splint boots on the front end to provide support. I need to do a much better job myself using these aids.

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