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Stem Cell Therapy & Equine Health

Tendon and ligament injuries can lead to long-term issues if not treated properly. Treatments like stem cell therapy may be able to help. Here, our Ocala vets discuss the use of stem cell therapy for tissue repair and the maintenance of equine health.


The Importance of Stem Cell Therapy for Horses

Some horses have physically demanding careers, such as sport horses. Unfortunately, this can lead to unexpected and potentially serious accidents and injuries.

These injuries can have severe consequences like long recovery times, risk of reinjury, and possible early retirement. Often, they also come with financial implications for the horse owner.

Stem cell therapy can help to improve healing and minimize the potential risks.

How Stem Cell Therapy Works

Stem cells play an important and active role in the body, maintaining tissue and organ health and helping with cell regeneration and healing after an injury.

While these MSCs cannot transform into different types of cells, they assist in the healing process by controlling the cells in the affected area, and guiding them to the injury so they can begin repairing the affected tissue.

This type of stem cell also has increased anti-inflammatory properties helping to reduce inflammation during the healing process.

Benefits of Equine Stem Cell Therapy

There are several potential benefits of stem cell therapy for both the treatment of injuries and ongoing joint and tendon maintenance.

When stem cells are injected into injured tendons, the healing process may noticeably improve and there will be a reduction in scar tissue. This helps to reduce the risk of re-injury.

Injecting stem cells into joints can help reduce chronic pain and increase limb function in horses, especially those with osteoarthritis.

Stem Cell Treatment Process

MSCs can be prepared from cells from either bone marrow aspirates (collected with a needle placed directly into the bone) or a small biopsy prepared from the horse’s adipose (fat) tissue. The steps of this process include:

  1. Your veterinarian will collect the sample from your horse.
  2. The sample is then sent to an authorized stem cell laboratory where a stem-cell-rich fraction is prepared.
  3. The stem cells will be grown until sufficient numbers for treatment are achieved. The number of cells required depends on the size and type of injury.
  4. After two to three weeks the stem cells will then be sent back and your veterinarian will inject them into the target area. 
  5. Your horse's limb will be bandaged for seven days and they will begin rehabilitation.

Considerations for Equine Therapy Using Stem Cells

Stem cell therapy is still a relatively new field. This means that there are still many things to learn when it comes to this type of treatment. While there are many benefits, there are also a few considerations that you should keep in mind such as:

  • Aberrant Cell Development: An aberrant (atypical) cell is a cell within the body that has been somehow changed.
  • Tissue Contamination: During cell processing, there is a risk of contamination with infectious agents of foreign biological and nonbiological substances.

Equine Therapy in Ocala, FL

Along with stem cell treatments, we offer other therapeutic services like equine cryotherapy and acupuncture at our hospital in Ocala.

Please speak with our vets to learn how these types of equine therapies can be used either alone or in conjunction with other treatments to help with your horse's recovery.

Note: The advice in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding animals, or professional advice regarding equine regulations. For the diagnosis of your animal's condition and help to navigate regulations governing the care and transportation of equine animals please contact your vet.

Has your horse sustained an injury? Contact Florida Equine Veterinary Associates to request a consultation to discuss equine therapies and how they may help.

New Patients Welcome

Florida Equine Veterinary Associates is passionate about the health of sport and performance horses. Get in touch today to book your equine athelete's first appointment.

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