Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Swelling of Upper Hind Limb or Leg

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

  • If lameness is noticeable at the walk.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) in the resting horse indicate fever (Temp >101F/38.3C) or heart rate greater than 48 BPM.

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

  • Even if the horse does not appear to be lame to you.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

For purpose of this record, the upper hind limb is the area between the hock and the hip.

The upper hind limb is composed mostly of massive musculature covering the hip joint and down to the stifle, This mass of muscle and connective tissue makes diagnosis of injuries in this region difficult even for experienced vets.

The stifle is the first joint that is relatively accessible visually and manually. The hind limb below the stifle (known as the gaskin) is heavily muscled on its outside surface, whereas the inside surface has relatively less muscle, with vital nerves and very large vessels right under the skin. In addition, there is little covering protecting the tibia bone here, and fractures to this bone are therefore not that uncommon.

Swelling of the upper hind leg can be associated with a variety of disease processes. Bacterial infections and traumatic injuries are the most common. The massive musculature makes diagnosis difficult. The hip joint is stabilized by huge muscles and heavy ligaments. Injuries to the hip joint itself are relatively rare and are difficult to diagnose. Disease processes can ascend from the lower limb (puncture wound and infection) or descend from the groin or abdomen (abscess or traumatic injury).

The best indicator of severity of injury and the need for veterinary help is the presence and degree of lameness. Fractures, joint, tendon and ligament injuries and severe infections typically cause severe lameness.

WHAT TO DO

Assess the horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to the degree and location of swelling, presence of pain to pressure over the swollen area, and especially the degree of lameness at the walk. Infections are often associated with fever. Fractures are usually associated with severe lameness. Contact your vet with your findings and concerns.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

CONTACT US

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Sending