Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Stocking Up, Stagnation Edema

Synonyms: Monday Morning Complaint, Peripheral Edema, Static Congestion

Stagnation edema, commonly known as “stocking up” is the swelling of the lower limbs, from above the fetlock to the ground. It occurs most commonly in both hind limbs (but sometimes in the forelimbs), due to decreased activity or excessive time in a stalled environment.

In these circumstances, a horse’s circulatory system slows down, there is none of the normal movement of the tissues assisting the movement of fluid back out of the lower limbs, and the fluid part of the blood leaks out of the blood vessels. Gravity pulls this to the lower part of the limb, where it settles in the tissues of the lower leg resulting in swelling. Stocking up often occurs after a horse has been exercised and is then placed in a stall for a day or two.

Stocking up alone is not noticeably painful to the horse. Other than mild stiffness and possibly a mild reluctance to move, it is not accompanied by any other signs of illness or injury. Horses with this relatively mild condition maintain their same attitude and appetite.

If only one leg is swollen, all four legs are swollen, the horse is lame, there is digital pulse and heat in the hooves, or the horse is exhibiting other signs of illness or injury, they may be suffering from a different disease process.

Prognosis & Relevant Factors

Generally good with increasing exercise. If the swelling does not resolve after mild exercise, it may not be a simple case of stocking up.

QUESTIONS TO ASK MY VET

  • Why do you believe that my horse is just stocked up, and that this is not the result of another more serious disease process?
  • PREVENTION

    Do not immediately place a horse on stall rest after exercise. Take the time to cool them down and hose their legs with cold water. Ensure that the horse has access to adequate turnout and is able to move freely on their own. If this change in management is not possible, consider using supportive standing leg wraps, which may prevent fluid from pooling in the lower limbs.
    Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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