Medical treatment of osteoarthritis in the horse - a review

Vet J. 2006 Jan;171(1):51-69. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2004.07.008.


The medical treatment of osteoarthritis (OA) in the horse is one of the most utilized therapeutic regimens in the equine practice. It is important to understand the anatomy of synovial joints and the pathophysiology of the disease process to treat OA adequately. Once a thorough understanding of the disease process is comprehended the proper combination of systemic nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), intraarticular steroids, viscosupplementation and chondroprotectants can be used to treat the disease and inhibit further progression of degenerative changes to the cartilage surface. The equine practitioner is faced with many choices for controlling inflammation in OA. This review presents the background and appropriate uses of various NSAIDs such as phenylbutazone, flunixin meglumine, ketoprofen, naproxen, and carprofen as well as their associated toxicities. Various steroid formulations exist for intraarticular (IA) administration and much has been learned in the past decade regarding correct dosage, frequency of administrations, indications and toxicity. This review presents IA steroids and their indications in addition to various chondroprotective drugs that also exist to control inflammation and provide viscosupplementation. Data are also given on disease modifying OA drugs such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate that have more recently become available to the equine practitioner.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / adverse effects
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Cartilage, Articular / drug effects
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology*
  • Glucosamine / therapeutic use
  • Horse Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Horse Diseases / pathology
  • Horses
  • Injections, Intra-Articular / veterinary
  • Joint Diseases / drug therapy
  • Joint Diseases / pathology
  • Joint Diseases / veterinary*
  • Osteoarthritis / drug therapy
  • Osteoarthritis / pathology
  • Osteoarthritis / veterinary*
  • Steroids / administration & dosage
  • Steroids / adverse effects
  • Steroids / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Steroids
  • Glucosamine