Tarsal cellulitis is characterized by a firm, subcutaneous swelling on the lateral aspect of the hock that has little effect on joint mobility. It can include the formation of a false bursa. The condition is caused by severe abrasion of the skin and subcutaneous tissue overlying bony prominences. The skin may be excoriated by contact with concrete and particularly sharp curbs. Superficial abscesses must be drained extremely cautiously, because there is considerable danger of entering the joint. Padding and bandages should always be applied. Poultices rapidly reduce acute swelling.
Last full review/revision September 2015 by Paul R. Greenough, FRCVS