Joint pain due to injury or wear and tear over time is likely the most common cause of lameness in our equine athletes. We have a number of strategies to try to help sore horses including good foot care, proper conditioning, and various supplements and pharmaceuticals. All of these are useful aids. You may be familiar with having a joint injected in your horse with steroids and/or hyaluronic acid products. This is often very useful at calming down the inflammation in the joint. This is also commonly done in humans.
In recent years, research has led to the development of processes using non-pharmaceutical products to stimulate healing in damaged tissues. This treatment modality is known as
When the cartilage in a joint is injured, it becomes inflamed and inflammatory proteins called cytokines bind to the cell surface receptors on the cartilage and start the process of cartilage breakdown which ultimately leads to joint pain and damage.
There are several naturally occurring inhibitors (anti-inflammatory proteins) of these cytokines in the horse's blood. We use a commercial process called PRO-STRIDE APS. The system works like this. 60 mls of blood is collected from the jugular vein of your horse. Using a number of specially designed tubes and processes, the blood is centrifuged and processed to end up with a small volume of highly concentrated autologous protein solution (APS) . A sterile prep is done and this solution is then injected into the joint. The APS proteins help neutralize the destructive processes of the cytokines and allow the cartilage to heal.
We have been using this particular system for over two years now and have been pleased with our outcomes. It takes a few days for it to work, but the duration of its positive effects can be months. It is not a fix-all but definitely has been a very useful tool in our tool-box.