Bucked shins

Veterinary advice should be sought before applying any treatment or vaccine.

Bucked Shins

Dorsal Metacarpal Disease, Dorsal Metacarpal Periostitis, Shin Soreness

Bucked shins or dorsal metacarpal periostitis is an important problem in horses in the racing industry, characterized as a condition causing inflammation and pain, and swelling in severe cases on the front of the horse's cannon bone. It somewhat resembles 'shin splints' in humans.
Bucked shins comparison between trained and untrained horse
Bucked shins usually develops suddenly following a high-speed workout or first race. Horses will present with bilateral soft tissue swelling, inflammation, heat, and sensitivity (pain) on palpation over the front of the cannon bone (dorsal aspect of the metacarpus). There is usually accompanying lameness and/or some degree of soreness or stiffness. If affected horses as asked to continue to race and train, lameness will progressively worsen.

Symptoms

Heat and pain
Swelling
Stiffness/soreness
Choppy, abnormal gait
Lameness

Diagnosis

  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Nuclear scintigraphy
  • Radiography
  • Thermography

Treatment


TreatmentDetails
Rest and rehabEach rehabilitation program is different for each horse, depending on the severity of clinical signs and radiographic and/or scintigraphic results. However, it will usually initially begin with stall rest (typically for 2 weeks) and hand walking for 10-15 minutes once or twice daily. Once soft tissue swelling and pain on palpation has subsided, horses are able to start on a controlled exercise program.
Anti-inflammatory therapyUsually recommended in conjunction with stall rest, starting immediately following an acute case of bucked shins, continued until pain and swelling has subsided.
Shockwave therapy
Corticosteroid injections

Prevention

  • Modification of training regimen
  • Train on different ground surfaces: woodchip based or grass is better than traditional dirt.
  • Continuously monitor racing horses for signs of shin soreness.

Prognosis

Generally favors a good to excellent prognosis with rare recurrence in skeletally mature horses.

Scientific Research References

Good Overviews

  • bucked shins icon
  • splints icon

Age Range

Most common in young Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds, or Quarter Horses in early training to race.

Risk Factors

  • Heavy training schedule

Also Consider