Oral Supplement Combination Reduces Joint Inflammation

Several studies have suggested that administering a combination of oral glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate (Glu/Chon) provides a greater benefit than giving each by itself. After eight years of research, Martha Rodgers, VMD, a private practitioner in Lexington, Ky., found Glu/Chon supplementation reduced joint inflammation caused by cartilage loss.

"Glucosamine and chondroitin act as the raw material building blocks for both hyaluronan (hyaluronic acid) and for substrate of the cartilage matrix," Rodgers explained. "They also have been shown to block or 'downregulate' the action/production of the destructive enzymes (metalloproteases) that damage cartilage. Joint injections are usually performed in the performance horse to counteract inflammation of the joint, either of the synovium, or due to cartilage degradation."

From 1997 to 2004, Rodgers evaluated hocks of eight horses competing in hunter/jumper events and under the care of one trainer. For the first two years, horses were evaluated without Glu/Chon supplementation. The mean number of joint injections the group received during that time was 1.7 injections per year. However, from 1999-2004 while receiving Glu/Chon supplementation, the mean number of injections needed dropped to 0.85 per year.

"In this study, twice daily administration of 10 grams of Glu/Chon supplement resulted in favorable results of longer duration of soundness and fewer required joint injections in regard to the lower hock joints," Rodgers said. "Glucosamine and chondroitin both have a fairly short half-life in the body, and twice-daily dosing gives the body a more uniform level than to have more of a peak and trough with single daily dosing. You could still get results with single daily dosing--perhaps not quite as good, but you would have to give 10 grams daily at one dose."

According to her, horses required at least six months of consistent supplementation before showing signs of improvement.

"Radiographically, all of the horses showed a progressive narrowing of the distal intertarsal and tarsometatarsal (hock) joints over the course of the study, which substantiated continued trauma and wear of the distal hock joints," Rodgers said. "Two of the horses were functionally fused by the end of the study period in one of their hocks each. Despite the radiographic evidence of significant arthritic change, the horses continued to do well on the Glu/Chon supplement."

The study was published in the International Journal of Applied Research in Veterinary Medicine, Vol. 4 No. 2, 2006.

About the Author

Chad Mendell

Chad Mendell is the former Managing Editor for TheHorse.com .

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