How to treat osteoarthritis medically in the horse – A review.
Osteoarthritis is a very common condition in the horse and the medical treatment of osteoarthritis is therefore one of the most utilized therapeutic regimens in equine practice. The joint is an organ consisting of cartilage, joint capsule, ligaments, synovial fluid and subchondral bone. The therapeutic goals of treating osteoarthritis should be aimed at targeting both the soft tissue supportive structures and cartilage within the joint. The therapeutic goals may differ between one of the following: to decrease inflammation, alleviate pain, lubricate the joint, restore the articular environment to slow progression of disease, or in rare instances to increase cartilage destruction to encourage ankylosis. This review will give an overview of the different classes of drugs used in the treatment of osteoarthritis, their indications and toxicity. In addition to these drugs, various chondroprotective drugs such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate that recently became available to the equine practitioner to control inflammation and provide viscosupplementation will also be dealt with briefly.