The suspensory ligament (SL) ties into the top of the cannon bone, just below and behind the carpus in the front limb and the hock in the hind limb. The structure runs down the back of the cannon bone, between the two splint bones. Two-thirds of the way down the cannon, it splits into inside (medial) and outside (lateral) branches, which attach to the sesamoid bones at the fetlock. The SL is a critical structure for the sling function of the fetlock joint and is unfortunately a common site for the development of lameness conditions.
Branch injuries, near the fetlock, are common in race and sport horses and horses involved in Western performance. These are usually noticed as obvious swellings of the fetlock area and up into the cannon region, usually worse either inside or outside. Affected horses are often moderately to severely lame.
As with other suspensory injuries, these take months to heal and have a tendency to recur. While there are a host of treatments claiming success in treatment, the cornerstone of treatment remains rest and time.
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Prognosis & Relevant Factors
The prognosis is fair, if adequate time is allowed for healing. These lesions also tend to recur.
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