Thursday, May 13, 2010

Stifled! Does your horse have a bum knee?

 Stifles. They're the horse equivalent of the human knee and about as complex. I wrote about stifles last year, so I guess this is part II. Since then I found this great intro to stifles: Diagnosis and management of acute stifle injury in adult horses in In Practice September 2008. It's thorough and easy to understand. The picture on the left was borrowed from the article.

Here are a few stifle facts from other resources...
  • The menisci are disks that lie between joints in the stifle. Meniscal tears of the stifle heal very slowly because they have even less blood supply than other tendons/ligaments.
  • Some horses with stifle pain tend to stand with the stifle rotated out 
  • Mild lameness is usually accentuated by ridden exercise, especially when the rider sits on the diagonal of the lame limb.
  • Most humans tear or rupture the cruciate ligaments. This particular injury is rare in horses, which are much more likely to tear or injure the meniscal structures in the joint.  
 The equine stifle, like the human knee, is pretty critical to athletic pursuits of any kind. Although new therapies are showing promise, stifle injuries can be tough to treat. Generally, a significant stifle injury is bad news.

    Diagnosis and management of acute stifle injury in adult horses in In Practice Sept 2008.

    Inside the equine stifle from DVM News  

    Lameness may hinge on the stifle from Thoroughbred Times

    Stifle in Adams lameness in horses.

    Arthroscopy for meniscal tears from The Horse

    Meniscal tears in horses from Michigan State University Veterinary Medical School.
    Stifle disease from Burlington Equine
    Meniscal injury and stifle lameness from

    Diagnosis and treatment of stifle injuries from The Horse

    Diagnosing stifle disease from The Horse

    Lameness Associated with the Stifle and Pelvic  Regions  Proceedings of the Annual Convention of the AAEP 2002.

    Treating stifle injuries from  The Horse


    1. This happened to me just this winter. I tore my miniscus from playing Wii. My orthopod called it Wii Knee. They gave me a brace and it was better in a manner of days. I suspect it takes a horse a lot longer to heal. They probably don't get it from playing Wii.

    2. Excellent references..Good blog! Enjoyed my visit.


    3. Interesting information! I know what a cruciate ligament is because I ruptured mine when I was 25 while dancing. Sounded like a gunshot, seriously! And my leg seemed fine afterwards, except for a little swelling, so I didn't go to the doctor immediately which turned out to be a mistake because if you let a ligament shrink it's much harder to repair. Just because you can walk on it doesn't mean it's good. So if you ever mess up your knee, don't wait around to decide if it's going to be fine, get it looked at.

      I've had a draft mare with stifles that made popping noises but she was never lame so the vet said not to worry about it. Her daughter had the same deal. Never had a horse lame because of stifle problems. More than my fair share of splints and bowed tendons (off the track TBs come with those a lot) but not stifles.

    4. Oh stifles! My gelding has bilateral cysts at the base of the femur. I am astounded at how even minor unevenness and pain can dramatically effect his whole body. All the way up to his teeth! His rehabilitation has been a very slow process, but I am in no rush! But practically every month, we are discovering the various ways this issue has effected him.

    5. My first horse got kicked in the stifle.
      The first vet told me he broke something and he'd never be ridable. First time I'd ever wanted to punch someone in the face. She didn't x-ray or anything.
      Second vet said he'd be fine, but it'd be a slow process. And she was right.
      It took him about 6 months of stall rest before we could let him out on small walks and build him up. He recovered from it and we were back jumping 2'6"+ fences again.
      I have to say it's not a great site for injury, because you can't do anything but rest for them. No wraps or anything. I see they have these new slings for them, but too late for my gelding now.


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