By Karen Blake
Horses are frequently injured without warning, especially in the warm summer months with increased turnout and riding time. Many soft tissue injuries are difficult to obtain good quality healing, despite long lay-up times and adequate rehabilitation programs. Recent advances in veterinary medicine have proven to allow better quality healing of injuries as well as treatment of arthritis.
Two modalities which can help improve the quality of the repair tissue within tendons & ligament injuries in horses are bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells (taken from the bone marrow of your horse & amplified in a lab) and platelet rich plasma (platelets drawn from the animal’s own blood and concentrated by centrifugation). Even horses with long-standing injuries which have not healed adequately or have minimal improvement over time are strong candidates for these treatments as they will stimulate the healing process by drawing in healing growth factors and providing ‘naive’ cells which can be converted into tendon, ligament or even cartilage cells. The tissue formed after performing these regenerative therapies have been shown to be better quality repair tissue and less prone to re- injury. Consider these options the next time your horse has a soft tissue injury.
Arthritis can be a difficult syndrome to treat and can put many wonderful riding horses out of work. Classically, steroids have been used to decrease pain and inflammation. In recent history, a short-acting steroid (triamcinolone) in combination with Hyaluronic Acid has been shown to decrease inflammation within the joint without being detrimental to the cartilage. This combination is a low cost option for short-term pain relief and allows a horse to continue a useful working life. However, there is a more recent discovery in arthritis treatment called IRAP which has excellent anti-inflammatory effects without any deleterious effects on the cartilage while also providing some growth factors to potentially improve joint health. Technically, IRAP is Interleukin-1 receptor antagonist protein.
IRAP is pulled from the patients own blood, processed overnight in an incubator & then centrifuged; the IRAP protein is present within the serum collected. The IRAP protein stops the inflammatory response at the top of the inflammation cascade by blocking IL-1 from attaching to its receptor in the joint. The serum with the IRAP is injected into the joint every 1-2 weeks for 3-4 injections. IRAP is an excellent addition to the arthritis arsenal.
With new information, we hope that you and your horse will benefit from more options to improve your horse’s healing capacity and quality of life.