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Bucked Shins and Treatment

Updated: Mar 13, 2023

Young racehorses often develop bucked shins soon after beginning training. Excessive concussion at this time may cause the periosteum over the metacarpal bones to tear away from the bone, forming a space that becomes filled with blood (a hematoma). Bucked shins can also result from a multitude of microfractures occurring on the metacarpus. The lameness will increase with exercise, and the horse will move with a short, choppy stride. If only one leg is affected, the horse will rest that limb; if both forelegs are bucked, the horse will shift its weight from one side to the other. A warm, painful swelling will be noticeable over the front of the cannon bone. A fracture may occur if the horse is not allowed proper rest after incurring this condition.

The application of cold packs for the first day or two will help reduce inflammation, but rest is also a necessary part of treatment for metacarpal periostitis. Sodium oleate injections into the affected area is currently considered a treatment of choice, and may reduce the convalescent period. Alternatively, the veterinarian may inject a corticosteroid subcutaneously over the area and wrap the leg. After the therapy, the horse will probably require at least a month of rest before being returned to training, even though he may appear sound, since the leg may not be fully healed and stress could result in a fracture.

If a fracture has developed, immobilization with heavy support bandages and a minimum of forty-five days of rest is necessary. Counterirritants, firing, and radiation therapy are probably not very effective in treating fractures.

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