Ringbone is a progressive, degenerative, performance-limiting condition. However, it is one of many possible causes of lameness that occurs in the lower limb of the horse. Many of these conditions also produce very similar initial signs. For this reason, it is important to have your horse evaluated by your veterinarian in order to accurately diagnose, treat, and provide a prognosis.
The treatment of ringbone is directed by the contributing cause, the duration of the condition, the degree of lameness, and the intended use of the horse. The primary goal should be to minimize the factors that contribute to its development. This should include a critical evaluation of the conformation of the horse. If you are considering purchasing a horse, it is a good idea to have a veterinarian perform a pre-purchase exam and possibly take radiographs of the pastern region if problems are suspected. If you already own a horse that has a conformation that would contribute to abnormal forces across these joints, then regular scheduled hoof care is important. This includes the proper balancing of the foot and appropriate shoeing.
If your horse shows a sudden onset of lameness, it is important to have it evaluated by a veterinarian to determine the cause. In the case of a strain/sprain type of injury to the joint, your veterinarian may prescribe a number of treatment options directed at reducing the pain and inflammation. These may include rest, anti-inflammatory drugs, leg wraps, and hot or cold therapy.
If there is evidence that the condition is more chronic in nature, it is important to keep in mind that this does tend to be a progressive condition. The initial course of treatment for chronic cases is usually attempted by treating the condition medically.
Medical management of these chronic cases may include the judicious use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, intra-articular corticosteroid injections, and appropriate shoeing with a roller motion shoe that will facilitate an easier breakover of the foot. Often medical management may extend the athletic career of horses for a variable duration.