The sheath of tissue that surrounds the horse’s lower digital flexor tendons contains fluid that acts as a lubricant over the tendon as it moves back and forth. A distension of this sheath leads to fluid filled swellings found in the back of the tendon/fetlock area. These swellings are called common “windpuffs” and are often referred to “synovial effusion” of the tendon sheath.
They can be classified as idiopathic or pathological.
- causes no problems or lameness
- not associated with disease (unknown cause)
- swelling on both sides of tendon
- bilateral (both hind limbs)
- worse after exercise
- lameness, swelling and pain on palpation
- swelling of the tendon sheath could indicate tenosynovitis (inflammation of the membrane covering the tendon sheath)
- veterinarian uses various diagnostic modalities to diagnose tenosynovitis from windpuffs
The proximal annular ligament (PAL) keeps the flexor tendons in place against the leg. If this ligament gets thick the elasticity lessens. This combined with tendon sheath swelling leads to constriction f the tendon. This results in the bulge above and below the ligament. It is diagnosed by appearance, lameness, heat and pain when flexing the fetlock joint. Your veterinarian may use local block or ultrasound to rule out or diagnose this condition.
In general windpuffs are not problematic. If there is lameness or single sided swelling near the fetlock/tendon area call veterinarian for advice.
The source of this article is found at TheHorse.com, Article #31131 Resolving a common-swelling
Disclaimer: Always consult your veterinarian for any diagnosis and treatment advice. This article was written by the author to add to your knowledge base. It was not written with the intent to diagnose any condition your horse may have.