Upward Fixation of the Patella

By: Dr. Lydia Gray

What is it?

The patella is the small, bony plate (the kneecap) that protects the knee joint in people, where the femur and tibia meet. In horses, this joint is known as the stifle. A unique hooking of the patellar ligaments over a notch on the femur allows the horse to lock its hind legs in the standing position. Unfortunately, if one of these ligaments remains in the hooked position, the horse is unable to bend its hind legs. This condition is known as Upward fixation of the patella and can range from a slight delay in a leg's forward motion to completely locking that freezes a leg for long periods of time. A veterinarian should examine the horse to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other causes of hind leg gait abnormalities such as shivers, stringhalt and fibrotic myopathy.

What can be done about it?

While the causes are not well understood, there are some factors that horses with this condition share, such as poor muscle conditioning, excessively straight hind leg conformation, stifle trauma, and debilitation. Therefore preventing future episodes may include a conditioning program to strengthen and tone the surrounding muscles and a nutritional program to improve the overall health of the horse. Corrective shoeing may also help.

What else do I need to know?

Horses that don't improve with the conservative approach above may require injections or surgery to prevent Upward fixation of the patella. However, not only are these treatments more aggressive in nature, they do not always correct the condition, so they should only be used as a last resort.

About Dr. Lydia Gray
 

Have questions? Contact us »
Connect with us:

Mollie and Eden
I started riding when I was 9 years old and quickly got swept up into the competitive hunter/jumper world. I showed my first pony, Chloe, in the Small Pony Hunter divisions were we competed at shows like Fairfield Hunt Club, Old Salem, HITS, and West...

Learn more »

SmartPak Barn Field Trip, Part 2: Decoding hay and grain for horses
Download the worksheet to test your knowledge! How much hay and grain does your horse get every day? How much SHOULD your horse be getting each day? Many horses may not be getting what your feed bag recommends, so we’re

Read More »

Download our mobile apps

Put SmartPak in your pocket with these awesome apps!

Check It Out »

Healthy horses, happy riders.
SmartPak is committed to a greener planet.
Sign Up Now!
Free Catalog Get Yours Now!

Questions? Call us Toll-Free at 1-800-461-8898.

SmartPak Equine™ is the premier online provider of horse supplies and equine supplements.
© Copyright by SmartPak Equine LLC. All Rights reserved.