Research Journal: December 2017

The information, ideas and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the United States Department of Agriculture.

Arthritis Treatment Inconclusive

A case series treated with polyacrylamide gel was used to examine the effectiveness of the treatment for arthritis. Joints of 28 horses with naturally occurring arthritis in coffin, pastern fetlock or knee joints were injected with a medical grade preparation of the substance that is used as a lubricant or filler gel for plastic surgery or laboratory testing. All horses received the treatment, no untreated controls were evaluated in parallel with the treated animals, and several horses received multiple injections of the gel. No other medication was added to the treatment. Depending on the joint affected, all study horses were rested and gradually returned to work following treatment. Lameness as well as pain, range of motion and joint swelling were scored and evaluated as outcomes. The observers doing the subjective scoring were aware of the objectives of the study and the treatment status of each horse (not blinded).

There was a decrease in lameness with 82% of the horses showing improvement 45 days after treatment and 75% of the horses showing improvement after 90 days. Most of the improvement was noted in the first 21 days after treatment. There were no adverse effects noted.

Admittedly, controlled and blinded studies of treatments for equine lameness are difficult to conduct in a clinical setting, and polyacrylamide gel has been used to treat arthritis in humans. The reader is cautioned to look for additional evidence from controlled, blinded studies before reaching any firm conclusions about the effectiveness of this treatment…

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Albert Kane

Albert J. Kane, DVM, MPVM, Ph.D.

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