Stifle Strengthening

Discussion in 'Horse Health' started by spec, Jan 16, 2018.

  1. spec

    spec Full Member

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    Hi all!

    My 5 year old mare injured her stifle last spring at the trainer’s. At the time I noticed it she wasn’t “lame” or “sore” on it, but I could tell she just wasn’t wanting to bring that left leg under herself as much at the jog; it appeared as though her stride on that side was slightly shortened. So we took her a chiro/vet; was told ice/rest/easy rehab & she should get better. We brought her back into work after some time and she was better, we had a great show season and she seemed no worse for the wear. However, I still feel like she’s just the slightest bit short on that left side. It’s not noticeable to the average person, but I swear I see it when I look for it. The vet saw her in November and when I lunged for her she didn’t see anything concerning (but I will say the short step isn’t noticeable when she’s trotting like a normal horse, it’s usually only under saddle when she’s doing the WP jog). She flexes negative on both, and she doesn’t consistently favor one foot when she’s resting. At the lope, her right lead is better than her left lead but it’s not by a considerable/abnormal amount.

    I often feel around and flex both her hind legs up/forward/back to see if there is any signs of discomfort, and there never has been since last spring. She is a sweetheart under saddle; no behaviors that make me think she would be in pain (however, I know sometimes good horses just tough it out for their humans)... My husband thinks I’m being a horse-hypochondriac so I figured I’d make a post here before I insisted on throwing more money at equine specialists :)

    Does anyone have some good exercises for us that can help strengthen stifles? My vet recommended trot poles and long trotting. I figure there are some of you out there who have more experience with stifle injuries than I do and might know something I don’t, so I’m curious to hear what you all have done!

    Also, is there any nutraceuticals or supplements that you have heard of that might help? I have been giving her Corti-Flex, but have been reading conflicting things about the efficacy of supplements in general. (I know these aren’t going to be the end-all-cure-all but there is some research suggesting they could help)...

    Thanks! :)
     
  2. Lopinslow

    Lopinslow Senior Member

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    if its still bothering her, I would have them injected.

    after that, for strengthening (april has had stifle issues) long trotting, poles and hills
     
  3. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    I would get a diagnosis before treating it, before doing the usual hill work recommended for simply 'weak' stifles.

    The problem is that a horse that simply has loose or weak stifles gets treated very, very differently from one that has an actual injury to a tendon or ligament, or inflammation/arthritis in the stifle.

    I would be quite concerned if a horse was short striding in one hind almost a year after an injury to a stifle. I'd take the horse to a lameness specialist and first try to establish if it's really the stifle or not, then have the area ultrasounded and xrayed, and find out what's going on, what's the prognosis, and what's the treatment.

     
  4. spec

    spec Full Member

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    My vet said we could try the injections if she didn’t get better. She did get better after that first visit just not 100% in my opinion. The problem is so slight I have a hard time justifying an injection. Most people think I’m seeing things.
    X rays were done at that first visit and were normal. Stifles usually get soft tissue injuries. She attempted an ultrasound that day also and didn’t think she saw anything, but admitted I’d have to go to the university for my best bet on that route, because apparently minor stifle injuries are really hard to see and take a very trained eye/super awesome ultrasound machine. I don’t know if I’m there yet.
     
  5. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

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    Stifle problems present with the horse landing toe first. Trot the horse to and then away from you in straight lines. Have someone trot the horse back and forth, in hand, past you and watch how the hoof lands: flatfooted, heel first, or toe first.

    Backing is the best exercises for strengthening stifles. You have to strengthen the muscles in the back end that support the stifle muscles.
     
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  6. Lopinslow

    Lopinslow Senior Member

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    IMPO, if the horse is still slightly off a year later, injections would probably be something to ask a lameness vet about.
     
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  7. spec

    spec Full Member

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    I’m bad at seeing things, esp the heel/toe thing. Here’s a short lunging video I took. The leg I’m concerned about is the left. I also put it in slow-mo if that helps. Please excuse the dirty/frozen paddock. It’s the dead of winter here, -3* the day I took this video!
     
  8. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

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    Landing toe first on both hinds, worse on the left hind.
     
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  9. BluemoonOKy

    BluemoonOKy Senior Member

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    Looks like possibly left hock. She is stepping in to the right but at first short striding on both. . Honestly, the ground being hard can aggravate and inflame especially with the twisting from uneven ground. Have her hocks been xrayed? Also bruised feet can be a factor when ground is frozen.
    Could do a bute trial for a week...that's probably what my lameness vet would say to start with. If It improves that gives you information. It should also be noted that talking to your vet, since bute is a prescription, is something you should do. My vet would probably start with topical paints like dmso/ cortisone. I'd like to see her walk.
    How did she initially get the injury At the trainers?
     
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  10. spec

    spec Full Member

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    I’m sure the ground does not help things. She’s turned out 24/7 with a run-in barn but the ground is dang hard, all the horses seem a tad ouchy. I should note she just had her feet trimmed. I had her at the vet’s in November and she thought she looked fine, nothing that warranted any further examination. She is a pleasure horse so she’s naturally a little lazy with her movement, it takes a lot to get her really working that hind end. Like I said before, my husband thinks I’m a horse hypochondriac, so that’s why I decided to post here before I insisted on dumping more $ in vet work!
    We never x-rayed hocks, that’s what I would do next too. We’re not real sure how but she ran into something or got kicked in the paddock at the trainers, location of the swelling was the telltale sign on the stifle. It was a minor injury according to the vet and horse seemed fine not long after. She advised no NSAIDs because when a horse “feels good” they hurt themselves more. She told me that last spring, maybe now she’ll have a change of heart since it’s been so long.
     
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