Monday, April 25, 2011

Joint injections and fused hocks

I had Ari's hocks injected today, for the second time. The last time was about a year ago, and he's just been a little "off' since Chatt hills. I think I got one last shebang out of him and now he needed, badly, to be done again.

He is always HORRIBLY resistant to the left, which is his blind side, and I finally decided that it was probably more hock-related than sight related, although it could be either... or both.

So, I knew his left hind was causing problems anyway, and when Dr. Mark injected his "inside" joint (middle?) he commented on how "tight" it was. It didn't occur to me, but when I was talking to Amy, she asked if that meant his hocks were "fusing." I put a call back in to Dr. Mark to see if that is, in fact, what he meant, but haven't heard back yet. From what I read, though, that is actually a positive thing, once all is said and done. Sounds like I need an xray in the near future to have an idea of what is going on... but I wonder if an xray would just make ME worry more!

Here's a great article on hocks, injections and fusing of the joint.

Anyone out there in blogger-land have experience with fusing hock joints?


  1. Get the x-rays. Honestly, they're so cheap, it's a no-brainer. Don't worry about the worry. I have a bunch of joint and muscle stretching exercises to show you which will highlight all sorts of tight areas and asymmetries in the back and hips - and then you can really start to panic :)

  2. I had a horse who's hocks fused when he was about 19, he continued working until he was about 24 and was MUCH more comfortable after the hocks fused. This was before HA injections and hock injections back then were risky and could do more damage than the arthritis. We did not do injections to encourage the hocks to fuse. (I only know of one horse that had that done - 10 years ago and they had to put him down.) Because it is the smaller joints that fuse I would think you would still carry on with HA injections in the larger joint - but I don't know, I haven't run into this myself yet.

  3. As I understand it, you only need to get them injected while they are in the process of fusing, which happens around the age of 16-18. They can have a lot of discomfort during that fusing process and the cortisone lubes everything up and makes them more comfortable.

    Once fused, though, they are good to go.

  4. Ok, I wrote this great post earlier from my phone but then when I went to submit IT LOST IT... So I'll do my best to repeat...
    It pays to have vet friends, eh? Getting "tight" is arthritis/new bone formation between the joints, so yes the vet having a hard time getting in probably means they're fusing. It is good, but quite frustrating when you're the one trying to get in! I'm not sure the xrays would make a difference in your treatment -- if he's stiff/painful you're going to keep treating the joints as needed for pain. When they're fused they'll stop hurting. An xray would show he's started fusing, but duh, you know that! I generally put steroid and antibiotic only in the two lower joints -- the HA for "oil change" isn't really needed if you're just trying to keep the horse comfortable while he's fusing (the steroid kind of helps it along by "eating" --layman's terms-- at the cartilage a little). I only inject the upper joint if the horse is showing signs of needing injecting, and if I do that one I put HA in because it's a higher motion joint (ie - we don't want that one to "fuse!").

    Once they're fused there are no longer any pain receptors so they no longer show the pain signs like shortness of stride; however, they may be a little stiff due to decreased shock absorption -- after all, that's what those joints are for! Yay for the pony! And boo that Fric isn't running Rolex... I was really looking forward to a new pony to show my clients that have eyes enucleated -- "Look! This horse ran Rolex! Your pony, too, can do anything!" I guess I can still use him to the Advanced level :)