Hock Swelling – Thoroughpin or Something More Serious?

I have a 3 yr old mare that has developed a swollen hock on the right back leg. She is not lame, there is no heat, and there is swelling in the hock. The swelling is soft and feels like there is fluid. It seems to me that if it were bone or tendon issues then there would also be lameness. I have been hosing the leg down with cold water and I have also put liniments and DMSO on the leg for several days now. The swelling has gone down a little but not a lot. I have pictures to show and I was not sure if she may have Thoroughpin. What do you recommend as being the best treatment for Thoroughpin? What are your thoughts on injections or removal of the fluid? As I am not sure exactly what is wrong. I am trying to research and learn about possibilities of what might be wrong. Thank you for your time.

JM, Tennessee

Dear JM,

First, I recommend you check out the page that I wrote specifically about Thoroughpin. It defines this condition as a cosmetic blemish of the hock area that consists of swelling but no heat or pain, as you describe. However, just to be sure there’s nothing more serious going on, I recommend having a veterinarian examine your mare. Because the risk factors for Thoroughpin may also be risk factors for more serious conditions such as arthritis, tendinitis and other lamenesses, it will be helpful to have a vet’s opinion on the matter.

When it comes to treatments for Thoroughpin, less may be more. That is, because the swelling is a cosmetic blemish and not an actual cause of lameness or discomfort, you may be better off sticking with the conservative approach you’ve already taken vs more aggressive approaches such as injections or fluid drainage. These all run the risk of infection or at the very least inflammation and down-time so I say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” One of my horses has a thoroughpin on one hind leg (probably from kicking the stall) and I notice two things improve the swelling: cold weather and MSM.

Lydia F. Gray, DVM MA, currently serves as the Medical Director/Staff Veterinarian for SmartPak Equine. Prior to joining SmartPak, Dr. Gray served as the first-ever Director of Owner Education for the American Association of Equine Practitioners. She has authored numerous articles in publications such as The Horse, Horse Illustrated, Western Horseman and a variety of veterinary journals and magazines. Dr. Gray is also a frequent speaker at horse expos, veterinary conventions and other locations. After graduating with honors from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and receiving her Master's Degree in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication, she practiced at the Tremont Veterinary Clinic for several years. Dr Gray is active in the American Veterinary Medical Association and Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association and enjoys training and showing her trakehner Newman in her spare time.  Find Dr. Gray on Google+

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