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EDITOR’S NOTE: The information, ideas and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the United States Department of Agriculture.
A systematic review of literature was conducted to examine the evidence for bandaging horses with acute superficial digital flexor (SDF) tendonitis (bowed tendons) compared to rest alone to promote healing.
Four prospective experimental studies were identified that were relevant to the specific question at hand; however, two of the studies were bench top experiments conducted with cadaver limbs and one was a kinematic study of uninjured horses where effects of bandaging on limb movement were theoretically extended to relate to tendon healing.
The authors concluded there is limited evidence to suggest that bandaging along with rest shortens the healing period compared to rest alone following SDF injury. Despite the fact that only one of the in-vivo experiments actually used a cast, they also concluded that cast immobilization during the 10 days following injury minimizes propagation of the lesion associated with bowed tendons. Given that the potential negative effects of lower limb casting on the affected or contralateral limbs were not considered in this review or the one in-vivo study that evaluated rigid casts, caution is probably warranted when rigid casts are used in this manner.