Horses Injure Stifles – Football Players Injure Knees!


The stifle joint in a horse is equivalent to the knee joint in a football player. Unfortunately, the joint we call a knee in the horse is actually the same as the wrist in a human – how confusing!

Charlie injured himself whilst jumping and the impact caused him to fracture his Patella. The Patella is commonly called the knee-cap in humans and slides up and down over the end of the femur as the hind leg bends. The Patella may be a relatively small bone compared to the femur, but the role it plays in locomotion is vital to the equine stifle joint.

Charlie’s injured Patella fragmented in numerous small pieces after the fence impact occurred. The injury was obviously painful with Charlie returning a lameness score of 3 on a 1-5 scale. X-rays were taken of the stifle joint and these revealed the true extent of the injury.

Charlie was taken to surgery at the South Eastern Equine Hospital and the small fragments of his patella was removed by arthroscopy. This is a technique where a camera and specialised instruments are introduced into the joint through small incisions. Arthroscopies cause minimal disruption to the joint structures and allow the horse to return to normal function as quickly as possible. The small fragments of bone were removed from the joint to allow the mechanism to move freely once more. The main part of the Patella was left intact and will continue to function normally for many years to come. Charlie is recovering well after surgery and looking forward to resuming his athletic career.


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