Many horse trainers use joint supplementation on their active or performance horses. Joint supplements are also excellent for older horses. Joint care supplements include ingredients such as glucosamine, MSM, hyaluronic acid, and others. These ingredients work on different aspects of your horse’s joints. Some, like glucosamine and hyaluronic acid, work on supporting the joint matrix and increasing the thickness of joint fluid while, such as MSM, work as anti-inflammatories. If your horse needs joint supplementation, you may wish to compare the ingredients below so you can determine what your particular horse needs.
SUPPORTING HEALTHY JOINTS
Supporting healthy joints is a multi-approach process. It often involves mild exercise and weight control, as recommended by your veterinarian. Intra-articular (IA) injections of corticosteroids, hyaluronic acid, and polysulfated glycosaminoglycans are often used as aggressive therapy to decrease inflammation and swelling. Intra-articular injections should ALWAYS be done by your horses veterinarian. Oral supplementation is often used as an adjunct to IA injections.
Several options are available to battle against equine joint conditions.
SODIUM PENTOSAN POLYSULFATE
Sodium pentosan polysulfate (PPS) is a linear polymer prepared from xylan, a complex hemicellulose extract of the plant (Beechwood) origin. PPS is one of the sulfated heparinoid compounds. The â€œheparin likeâ€ anti-coagulant effects have been reduced and the anti-inflammatory, fibrinolytic and tissue trophic effects have been enhanced.
SODIUM PENTOSAN POLYSULFATE actively reverses the effects of osteoarthritis in the joints via a series of actions including:
1. Stimulating Chondrocyte Metabolism: Results in increased production of proteoglycans and healthy cartilage matrix. PPS stimulates synovial fibroblasts and produces an increased amount of high molecular weight hyaluronic acid which results in an increased production of normally viscous joint fluid. Improving the fluid volume and consistency results in more effective joint lubrication and also stabilisation, which limits further cartilage damage.
2. Anti-inflammatory Activity: PPS has an inhibitory action on all mediators of the arachidonic acid cascade. PPS also inhibits the lysosomal catabolic enzymes histamine, hyaluronidase, cathepsin B, and polymorphonuclear elastase. PPS exerts a specific inhibitory effect on mediators implicated in the degradation of cartilage matrix components, preserving the cartilage and thus preventing the release of the highly inflammatory mediators, which relieves pain and inflammation.
3. Fibrinolysis and Lipolysis: PPS is strongly fibrinolytic, stimulating the release of plasminogen activator and promotes the dissolution of thrombi and fibrin deposits in synovial tissues and subchondral blood vessels. PPS also mobilizes lipids and cholesterol in synovial and subchondral blood vessels, which have been implicated in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis in older animals. These effects combine to increase the pre-fusion to the joint, which stimulates cartilage healing and repair.
Hyaluronic acid is a main component of synovial fluid. With joint injury, destructive enzymes break down the hyaluronic acid and the joint loses the cushioning effect of the synovial fluid. Sodium hyaluronate or Hyaluronic acid (HA) may protect the joint by increasing the viscosity of the joint fluid, reducing inflammation and scavenging free radicals. This nonsulfated glycosaminoglycan (GAG) is made by cells in the cartilage and joint lining and is designed to act as a lubricant. It has been found not only to increase the thickness of the joint fluid, therefore offering more cushion to the joint, but HA also inhibits damaging enzymes as well as jump-starting the body into manufacturing its own sodium hyaluronate.
This supplement can be given orally as well as administered directly into the joint through injection. Studies have shown that oral supplementation of hyaluronic acid can achieve positive results in horses. It can be effective on horses in training, competition, or any situation when they may have a lot of wear and tear on their joints. HA can also be effective for horses with osteoarthritis. Horse owners rely on this supplement and include it either alone or in supplements with other nutraceuticals like glucosamine for the management of their horse’s joint conditions.
Glucosamine provides the building blocks to synthesize new cartilage. Glucosamine is a substance normally found in the body of living animals. The highest concentration is in cartilage. Through normal wear, cartilage is constantly being broken down and replaced. In normal, healthy animals, the body is able to synthesize enough glucosamine to keep the existing cartilage healthy. However, when the horse’s joints age or there is damage to joint cartilage, the horse cannot produce enough to keep up with the body’s needs. This is when a supplemental form of glucosamine is recommended.
Glucosamine also appears to have some mild anti-inflammatory effects.
Glucosamine is often obtained from chitin, an ingredient found in the shell of crustaceans. Crustacean shells have a very high concentration of chitin and because the shells are often discarded, this provides a reliable and cost effective source of glucosamine.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) contains sulfur in a form the horse’s body can readily use. Sulfur is necessary for the production of collagen, glucosamine, and chondroitin, which are the building blocks of cartilage. Sulfur is also necessary in the formation of glutathione, which functions as one of our body’s best natural antioxidants. In addition, MSM has been promoted as having anti-inflammatory and pain reducing properties.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects joints from free radical damage. It also works synergistically with MSM.
USE OF JOINT SUPPLEMENTS WITH OTHER MEDICATIONS
In general, joint supplements can be used with other medications including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as aspirin, phenylbutazone and flunixin, as well as steroids such as dexamethasone. Always consult your veterinarian before using a joint supplement in combination with any other supplement or medication. Also, consult your veterinarian and show officials before using any supplement or medication in a performance horse.
If your horse is showing any signs of lameness or joint pain, it is always recommended to have your horse examined by a veterinarian so an accurate diagnosis can be made. Relying on a joint supplement instead of obtaining an accurate diagnosis may delay appropriate treatment for some conditions and result in permanent damage or longer recovery.