By Garrett Metcalf, DVM
Almost every horse person has heard of contracted tendons in a horse but flexural limb deformities (FLD) are a little more complicated than just tight tendons. There are different locations or joints involved with FLD and different age groups of horses that experience these types of deformities. Treatment options between these groups or types of FLD are quite different so understanding these types of deformities is important in picking the correct treatment plan.
Congenital Flexural Limb Deformities
Congenital FLD are deformities that are diagnosed at birth of a newborn foal. These deformities can affect the carpus, fetlock or the coffin joint. The most common area for a foal to have a FLD is in the carpus. It is not clear what causes these deformities in newborn foals, but uterine malposition of the foal is often blamed. In newborn children with club feet it is thought that lack of fetal activity leads to abnormalities in their limbs.
Other causes that have been suspected to cause FLD are genetic causes, toxins that the mare ingested during pregnancy, illness in the mare and poor nutrition. Regardless of the cause of the FLD in foals these problems need to be addressed as quickly as possible in order to fully correct the FLD without complications.
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