Stifle Problems

The stifle joint one of the largest and most complex synovial joints in the horse, it consists of femoral/ patella and a femoral/tibial junctions. It’s complex nature makes it susceptible to a wide range of injuries which can all be a cause of hind limb lameness. As well as supporting and stabilizing the hind limbs the stifle functions as a major driver for hind limb locomotion, this is achieved through the patella being a point of attachment for the driving quadriceps femoris muscle. There are a total of 14 ligaments which hold the joint together, one of these ligaments the medial patella ligament helps to lock the patella above the femoral condyle ridge which allows the joint to lock and stabilize the limb with minimal muscular effort.


Injuries can manifest in the stifle such as strains, traumas, infections, developmental joint issues, upward fixation of the patella which all can lead to degenerative joint disease or also known as gonitis.


The acupuncture work-up can be very valuable in localizing pain from the stifle region before any of the known clinical signs manifest this is especial true with the stifle and with detecting early signs of the locking patella syndrome. It is also important in determining how the stifle pain is effecting the body such as hypertonicity and pain in the sacro-iliac, thoraco-lumbar, quadriceps, sternohyoid and hamstring heads. Further evaluation and diagnosis of the stifle is taken on by the vet which 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 stifle.
  • Reduction in secondary sacro-iliac, thoraco-lumbar, quadriceps, sternohyoid and hamstring head pain and hypertonicity.
  • 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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