Coffin Joint Arthritis

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6 June 2012
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I know this topic has been covered many times on here but I would like some advice on my particular situation.
I have an 11, coming up 12 year old Connemara. Have owned him since he was 5 and if I'm honest he's had an easy life with me, hacking, pleasure rides and the odd days hunting. He has poor confirmation to start with but about 4 years ago he was
diagnosed with mild sidebone and arthritic changes in both front pasterns. We went the remedial shoeing and rest route and he came sound within about 4 weeks. Last summer he became uncomfortable, particularly on uneven ground and when turning. I took him to my usual vet who wasn't overly concerned but x-rayed and suggested using Equipak. This helped a little but didn't solve the problem.
I decided to change vets and get a fresh set of eyes to look at the problems. He had more x-rays then nerve blocks which pinpointed that the problem was in the coffin joint. A steroid injection was given and it was agreed that he would have bar shoes fitted to both front feet.
This happened on the 1st October and after a couple of weeks he came sound, thought great, then mid December I noticed he was feeling just not quite right. By this time I had run out of my usual joint supplement so ordered another thinking this might be the problem …. unfortunately not :-(
So my options are:-
1. MRI Scan to establish exactly what the problem is. I have been quoted around £1600.
2. Inject again.
3. Take him barefoot and turn him away for a period to see if he improves without the shoes.
 

ester

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So it seems like the steroid helped which does at least confirm that diagnosis a bit.
My own was dx with coffin joint DJD but nothing to see on X-ray really and lack of it getting worse over the last 6 years makes me wonder how correct that is. Coffin joint injection also helped him but as he started doing longer walk trot hacks he went off again. Unfortunately the injections don’t always give long returns.

I would add 4) discuss other medical options with Vet as steroid injections aren’t the only option.

And take him barefoot.

I wouldn’t MRI if I wasn’t insured, and I still might not if I was.
 
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I'm not insured. Cancelled it when they excluded his front legs and hocks.
I do have a reasonable amount of savings and am willing to pay for an MRI if I thought it would be useful but I think it will only confirm what we already know!!
When he had the steroid the vet did offer another type of injection but can't for the life of me remember the name. It cost about 500 quid.
 
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To be honest I have no idea what to do. When he was doing so well from the remedial shoeing and injection I didn't think I would be needing to make this decision for a good while longer.
He's happy in himself and enjoys his time out, fortunately I have a nice flat paddock.
I have emailed the vet to ask what options we have apart from the MRI.
 

ester

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Someone told me years ago that shows can come off and go on again fairly easily so it’s not a permanent life changing decision.

My vet didn’t have any more medical stuff he wanted to try and although on the outside his angles had improved remedially shod for two cycles he didn’t seem much sounder so wasn’t any point in continuing and so for us was time to try a different approach. My own opinion was that the shoeing made everything on the outside look better it hadn’t done much for the internals.
 
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No it isn't.
I'm feeling pretty downhearted at the moment. He's such a fab little horse and I know that I won't find another like him but at the end of the day I will always do what is best for him and if that means retirement then so be it.
 
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My old horse had coffin joint arthritis in his right forefoot. Had loads of treatments but nothing worked. Foot balance is, however, crucial. As you have found, steroid injections don't last and if repeated have even shorter affects. I finished up putting him on one bute per day which helped enormously. Obviously, hacking on hard ground is going to be a problem - always look for softer tracks. The other thing that was really good and made a difference (he is still on it to this day) is Equimins Flexijoint.
 

Theocat

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If the injections only lasted ten weeks thete is little point repeating them, IMO.

I would take the shoes off, but also have a chat with your vet. Before I would look at an MRI I would want to know likely courses of action depending on what's found- if you're going to be in a position where it will almost certainly come down to X or Y treatment anyway, you might as well skip the MRI and go straight to treatment.
 

bubsqueaks

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I too would take the shoes off - we have recently done this with our pony & wish Id done it years ago - we've found an extremely knowledgeable bare foot trimmer & its now about letting our mare find her hoof balance rather than enforcing the hooves in metal.
Few years ago we had the arthrimid injection which lasted upto 2 years.
Her hocks have also fused.
Physio visits are also vital as they do compensate in other areas for any painful flare ups.
 
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I think I have decided which way I'm going to go with this. The MRI would be a waste of money as we know basically what the problem is so I'm going to look at getting the shoes removed and discuss with my vet alternative treatments to the steroid injections.
I gave him a bute yesterday morning and he was like a different horse last night.
bubsqueaks did the arthrimid injection work on your pony?
 
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Out of curiosity has anyone found a joint supplement that actually helps this condition? I'm currently using the Equine Answers Premier Flex Plus but I'm not sure its doing anything.
 

bubsqueaks

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Yes we believe it did work but it was on our insurance so a no brainer really - sometimes it helps to give a short course of bute to ease inflammation flare ups - its all trial & error isn't it but Im absolutely thrilled with how she is so much more sure footed without shoes especially on the roads & up & down hills.
 
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How much did it cost for the arthrimid?
My friend took her little mare barefoot about 11 weeks ago and the transformation is amazing. She doesn't have any health problems but was forever tripping and slipping on the roads. Before mine went lame again we were going on 2 hour hacks round the forestry and her horse was going better than mine even over the stony ground. I'm nervous because of the problems he has but I think it is definitely worth a try, if it doesn't work out the shoes can easily be put back on.
 

bubsqueaks

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In 2016 it was £950 (inc vat & all sedation, vet visit fee etc).
I wasn't aware until recently that there is more shock absorbency without shoes which is what sold it to me, well that & a rubbish farrier who doesn't take account of foot balance sadly!
 

ester

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There are plenty of people here happy to handhold through a barefoot transition is you want to go that way.

They do vary a bit with success but for most show a good level of improvement. mine has always had rather flat soles, was booted for riding between 6 weeks and 6 months into transition, and though they improved with lots of work would still feel stones. However they did the job and he covered many miles and hunted bare.

FWIW because we did see some improvement albeit temporary with the steroid and vet didn’t want to do any alternatives (some of which didn’t exist then) he did have another jab at deshoeing as I thought it might give him a good start.

Re supplements I don’t consider the standard glucosamine etc supplements likely to help but have had some success with boswellia for arthritic conditions.
 
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bubsqueak my problems started through poor foot balance about 4 years ago. That and his confirmation led to the sidebone.
esther I will give the boswellia a go.
 
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