Osselets, them a better racer in the long

Osselets, which are also known as
traumatic arthritis in the fetlock joint. Osselets are due to the injury to the
joint capsule of the fetlock (Parker, 160). Osselets contains soft swellings in
the front or side of the fetlock joint (Briggs). The osselets can affect the
surface of the bone which is attached to the joint. Osselets is mainly found in
racehorses, typically young racehorses who have been worked too hard from
training. Horse owners want to push their young horses because it helps make
them a better racer in the long run, but it can also be dangerous for the horse
and the horse may not be able to race for a while due to recovery. When a horse
flexes the joint, and can cause lameness to the horse (Briggs). Osselets tends
to show on the front legs of the horse, the lameness can manifest and will be
shown as a short, choppy gait (Briggs). The earlier that the fetlock injury is
treated, the better the prognosis will be in the end. However, if osselets is
not caught early, the prognosis will be poor and the horse may have to get
surgery to relive the inflammation and new bone growth on the fetlock joint. To
fully understand osselets, there is a need to know the symptoms that may lead
to osselets, causes of osselets, diagnosis of osselets and the treatments of

symptoms of osselets may lead to osselets, but it will not be so sure until the
veterinarian makes the prognosis. Some of the symptoms that can occur are
soreness, swelling, inflammation, asymmetrical lameness, putting more weight on
the outside edge of the hoof and the lameness worsens on turns and after
exercise (LLC, HorseDVM). If the symptoms worsen, it can cause the joints to
become more irritated. The performance of the horse can dwindle quickly. If the
osselets is left unchecked, then the horse’s lameness will as well. It is
possible that the joint capsule will thicken and the sheath covering the bony
surfaces is pulled and stressed it will cause new bone growth, which is the
common response to trauma (LLC, HorseDVM). These symptoms can potentially lead
to osselets, but may not be this type of injury.

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causes of osselets are usually caused by chronic stresses on one or both of the
two front legs of the horse. These types of chronic stress injuries can come
from various sources such as hard training, poor shoeing, ill-fitting tack and
uneven terrain. It is most common on young Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds in
race training (Briggs). The young horses may have rushed conditioning which is
usually the main cause for osselets. Osselets has also been shown on draft
horses as well, who tend to work on hard surfaces and have short, upright
pastures (Briggs). The hard training is usually caused by the owners pushing
the horses over their limits in which causes straining on their legs. The poor
shoeing comes from having an improper size for the hoof of the horse. It is
important that the tack used for the horse is suitable for the purpose it is
intended for and is properly fitted correctly. For the uneven terrain, it is
important that the horse is not walking on uneven terrain because it can the
horse to trip or get stuck I a hole in the ground or even break their leg(s).
Making sure that they are walking on a flat, compacted surface helps reduce the
dangers of the uneven ground. The terrain needs to be able to provide some
traction and be soft enough to provide cushion for the horse. There are some
ways that can help prevent some of the chronic stress injuries, which is to be
able to make sure that the horses is not pushed too hard on their training,
have proper shoes that are fitted correctly for the horse and the tack is
suitable for the horse.

For the diagnosis
of the osselets. If a horse is showing signs of osselets, the horse’s
veterinarian needs to go through various steps to properly diagnosis the horse.
The veterinarian needs to know the previous history of the horse and the signs
that the owner observed and when it started showing signs. It is also important
to tell the veterinarian if the horse has had any recent injury or stress.
Then, the veterinarian may need to observe the horse walking to see if the
horse is showing signs of soreness on its front leg(s). Then, the veterinarian
may perform a physical exam such as palpating the limbs and muscles. Lastly,
the veterinarian may suggest on taking x-rays of the legs to determine if there
is any new bone growth, bone fragmentation or spurs. The horse can have a
radiograph such as a MRI to exam the horse for osselets. If the horse’s MRI was
primary soft tissue injuries and had a guarded prognosis then the horse can
return to their full athletic function (Dyson).Then, after going through the
medical history, observation, exam and x-rays, if needed, the horse can be
properly diagnosed with osselets.

the treatments of osselets, there are various types of therapies that can be
used to get rid of the inflammation and swelling. The first type of therapy is
rest and hopefully the signs of the inflammation will be gone. If the resting
did not work for the horse, the next type of therapy would be alternating from
hot to cold. Another treatment would be oral supplements, such as Hyaluronan,
glycosmaine and autologous conditioned serum (ACS) (LLC, HorseDVM). Some of the
other treatments may be drugs such as polysulfide glycosaminoglycan or sodium
hyaluronate, which will be administered as injections to the legs. Another form
of therapy is shockwave therapy, which is used to stimulate healing to the
horse that can allow continual training (Bramlage). In some cases, horses can benefit
from warm, moist heat or alternating applications of DMSO and capsaicin (Briggs).
Each of the treatments requires a veterinarian to be consulted with before
giving the horse the oral supplements, injections or surgery.

going through the symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatments of osselets helps
provide a better understanding of this type of injury. Once the symptoms are
observed by the owner, they should contact their veterinarian so the horse can
be checked to see if it actually has osselets. After a thorough diagnosis has
been performed by the veterinarian and the horse does have osselets; there is a
variety of treatments the horse can have done. It would be best if the horse
rests and lays off the activity, then it is possible the swelling and
inflammation will reduce. If the swelling and inflammation has not gone down
from the resting period, then proceed with the alternating temperatures.
Finally, if that did not work, it would be best to consult the veterinarian on
the other treatments to be done on the horse. Those types of treatments would
be the supplements and the surgery on the fetlock joint. In the end, it is best
to have the veterinarian’s attention. However, if the osselets are in the
earlier stages, the surgery and supplements will not need to be used on the
horse. If the conditions of the osselets worsens, then proceed with the right
treatment that the horse needs. Hopefully, the horse is able to recover from
the treatments so that the horse can go back to its training, but at a lower
level to prevent the osselets from returning again.











Bramlage, Larry R. “Operative
Orthopedics of the Fetlock Joint of the Horse: Traumatic and Developmental
Diseases of the Equine Fetlock Joint.” AAEP PROCEDDINGS, 2009,

Briggs, Karen. “Osselets (Traumatic
Arthritis of the Fetlock).” Thehorse.com, The Horse Group LLC, 1 Sept. 2000, (www.thehorse.com/articles/10119/osselets-traumatic-arthritis-of-the-fetlock)

Dyson, S J, et al. “Lameness
Associated with Foot Pain: Results of Magnetic Resonance Imaging in 199 Horses
(January 2001–December 2003) and Response to Treatment.” Equine Veterinary
Journal., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2005,

LLC, HorseDVM. “Osselets.” HorseDVM
Health A-Z, www.horsedvm.com/disease/osselets/.

Parker, Rick. Equine Science. 4th
ed., Cengage Learning, 2013.



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