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Bucked Shins in Horses


Bucked shins is a painful, acute periostitis on the cranial surface of the large meta-carpal or metatarsal bone. It is seen most often in the forelimbs of young Thoroughbreds (2- to 3-yr-olds) in training and racing, and less commonly in Standardbreds and Quarter horses.

This injury is generally brought about by strains placed on the dorsal cortex during high-speed exercise in young horses in which the bones are not fully conditioned. Microfractures (ie, stress fractures) are believed to be involved. It may progress to a cortical saucer fracture or even incomplete longitudinal fracture. In mild cases, subperiosteal hematoma formation and thickening of the superficial face of the cortex may be all that is clinically apparent. There is a warm, painful swelling on the cranial surface of the affected bone. The horse is usually lame initially, the stride is short, and the severity of the lameness increases with exercise.

Rest from training is important until the soreness and inflammation resolve. The acute inflammation may be relieved by anti-inflammatory analgesics and application of cold packs. Screw fixation is the method of choice to treat radiographically demonstrated stress fractures.

Last full review/revision March 2012 by Stephen B. Adams, DVM, MS, DACVS; Joerg A. Auer, DrMedVet, Dr h c, MS, DACVS, DECVS; James K. Belknap, DVM, PhD, DACVS; Jane C. Boswell, MA, VetMB, CertVA, CertES (Orth), DECVS, MRCVS; Peter Clegg, MA, Vet MB, PhD, CertEO, DECVS, MRCVS; Andrew L. Crawford, BVetMed, CertES (Orth), MRCVS; Jean-Marie Denoix, DVM, PhD, Agregé; Marcus J. Head, BVetMed, MRCVS; C. Wayne McIlwraith, BVSc, PhD, DSc, FRCVS, DACVS, DACVSMR; James Schumacher, DVM, MS, DACVS, MRCVS; John Schumacher, DVM, MS, DACVIM; Roger K. W. Smith, MA, VetMB, PhD, DEO, DECVS, MRCVS; Chris Whitton, BVSc, FACVSc, PhD

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