Conditions or ailments that are the cause of a problem that you see - your observation.

Your vet may diagnose

Suspensory Ligament Branch Injury

Synonyms: Desmitis of Suspensory Branch


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.

The word "desmitis" means inflammation of a ligament.

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.

TREATMENT- 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.

my vet's role



Other conditions or ailments that might also need to be ruled out by a vet.

Very Common
Less Common
more diagnoses


The prognosis is fair for suspensory branch injury, if adequate time is allowed for healing. These lesions, like other injuries to the SL, tend to recur.

my role


I might observe

You might make these observations when a horse has this condition.

Very Common
Less Common
more observations

Questions To Ask Your Vet:
  • Is there scientific research confirming that regenerative therapies are superior to traditional therapies (rest, time and gradual return to exercise)?

Avoid working horses in too deep a footing. Ensure that horses are conditioned adequately for the load expected of them. Choose horses of appropriate conformation for your chosen discipline. Have a purchase exam done prior to purchase.

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP