Carpal Problems

Carpal disorders are a massive part of racing injuries which limit performance and soundness of the horse. Joint issues range from fractures and chips of the carpal bones, developmental joint disorders, ligament and joint capsule strains and local tendon injuries which cause carpal pain and can end up as degenerative joint disease. Feet and chest pain are the two commonest injuries which act as stressors on the carpal joint. Feet pain causes constriction of the deep flexor muscle which causes the horse to land on the anterior aspect of the forelimb and thus stress the anterior aspect of the knee. The brachiocephalic / pectoral tears and strains cause the forelimb to land medially and thus stresses the medial aspect of the knee.


The acupuncture work-up can be very valuable in localizing pain from the carpal region before any of the known clinical signs manifest. It is also important on determining how the carpal pain is effecting the body such as it’s secondary effect on the cervical or mid lumbar regions. Further evaluation and diagnosis of the knee is taken on by the vet who can use diagnostic tools such as x-rays, ultrasounds, scintigraphy and nerve blocks.


Benefits of acupuncture include:


  • Pain reduction.
  • Increased joint range of movement, through muscle relaxation and increased joint capsule elasticity.
  • Reduced joint stress due to balancing the muscle tone and it’s effect on the carpus.
  • Reduction in secondary back and neck.
  • Hypertonicity and pain.
  • Increased blood flow through the region.
  • Raised levels of circulating cortisol.
  • Promotes proper function of the synovial membrane which reduces WBC into the joint.

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