hyaluronic acid and equine joint health

Hyaluronic Acid and Horse Joints

Last Updated on September 1, 2020

Maintaining optimal joint health in your horses is very important as a horse with bad joints doesn’t perform. Horses use their joints repeatedly putting pressure and increasing their risk of injury as they age. There are number of steps to maintaining your horses joint health and one of those is supplying them with a top joint supplement for horses.

One of the most widely studied and effective joint supplements for a horse is hyaluronic acid.

Why is Hyaluronic Acid So Important for Your Horses Joints?

Hyaluronic acid offers anti-inflammatory benefits which will ultimately lower the risk of wear and tear on your horses joints. Because hyaluronic acid along with water are the primary constituents of the synovial fluid that lubricates your horses moving joints it is an important part of your horse’s joint mobility.

Therefore higher hyaluronic acid well help your horse maintain synovial fluid levels. Oftentimes hyaluronic acid will be injected directly into the horses joints or it can be supplemented orally.

While there have been many studies showing hyaluronic acid being significantly beneficial for your horses joints, more study is needed to ascertain the efficacy of the oral mode of administering it to your horse.

What is Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is a simple chemical structure that is constructed from two sugars strung along in alternating pairs. The chains are linked through oxygen bonds that allow the molecule a strong foundational structure similar to bone, cartilage, and skin

These chemical chains are also very flexible allowing these molecules to possess the elasticity needed to twist and bend within the horses joints.

Hyaluronic acid molecules attract and hold water molecules very well. There are also sections within the chain that repel water when necessary. This means that hyaluronic acid tends to be attracted to itself. This allows multiple chains to stick together and then fill in the spaces within the joint that need support. When found in the joint HA looks like a thick watery substance.

Hyaluronic acid is beneficial anywhere your horse joints move. This includes the areas of the knees, hocks, and ankles. Hyaluronic acid can be stacked within these joints creating a more flexible and stable joint structure.

Hyaluronic Acid and It’s Anti-inflammatory Effects

Daily wear and tear on your horses joints can lead to inflammation even in the absence of a specific injury. This daily wear-and-tear can lead to many little tears in the joints that cause inflammation, swelling, and pain. When this damage occurs enzymes are released that hyaluronic acid can bond to diminishing the extent of the inflammation in the particular joint.

Hyaluronic acid is an exceptional free radical scavenger, but it alone cannot handle excessive levels of inflammation. Therefore great care must be taken in your horse’s joint health. A significant injury can lead to a chain reaction that causes extensive damage through the synovial joints causing a breakdown of synovial fluid, thus diminishing the lubricating effects within your horses joints.

When inflammatory fluids buildup within the horses joint capsule pressure accumulates inside of the joint which can lead to pain, inflammation, and stiffness. If this situation is left untreated permanent damage can occur within your horses joints. Eventually the horse is cartilage can breakdown leading to bone breaks and chips that accumulate within the joint itself. 

When to Use Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is best suited for treating horses in the earliest stages of inflammation within their joints. There are numerous scientific studies that have shown that hyaluronic acid effectively helps a horse with inflammation within the synovial membrane. It is also shown to be beneficial for horses with inflammation within the joint capsule itself. Both of these can be caused due to accumulated wear and tear and acute injuries. Hyaluronic acid is not shown to be effective alone in treating more advanced cases of inflammation or osteoarthritis horses.

Hyaluronic acid can be administered by your vet through injections directly to the source of the inflammation. This is a treatment that must be monitored closely by your veterinarian to ensure proper administration both in dose and frequency. You can also supplement hyaluronic acid with an oral supplement that can be purchased and administered per the guidelines of the particular supplement. With low-level inflammation and soreness an oral hyaluronic acid supplement can be an excellent option but if the issue has persisted or increased veterinary assistants should be sought, if not done so already. 

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