Ocala, FL. - “He’s a racehorse, but he never made it to the races.” Stephanie Brennan said about her twelve-year-old thoroughbred Oscar. As a yearling, Oscar arrived at Brennan’s racing facility in Ocala, Florida, where he was expected to step off of the trailer full of potential. Instead, the young horse exhibited signs of a serious tendon injury - necrosis. Oscar’s future looked so grim that many people turned their backs on the horse and his unfortunate fate. Luckily, Brennan and The Sanctuary Equine Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation Center did not give up on him quite so easily. Warning! This article shows actual photos of Oscar's tendon necrosis and may be disturbing to some readers.
The Latin term “necrosis” is a chilling word as it translates to “a causing to die.” In equines, a necrotic tendon is a tendon that is experiencing death of blood cells in its tissues. The condition can occur when swelling caused by a tendon injury prevents blood circulation in the injured area. Instead of circulating properly, the blood clots. This begins to form necrotic tissue. As necrotic tissue collects, it creates exuberant granulation tissue (commonly known as “proud flesh”).
Horses’ lower limbs are prone to producing massive amounts of proud flesh when necrosis occurs. The proud flesh protrudes through the skin in the injured tendon area, leaving an open wound that skin cells are unable to grow over. Open wounds in this area are easily contaminated and infected due to their close proximity to the ground and the dust, manure, and other particles they encounter. Severe cases can require surgery to remedy, which is a dangerous procedure for the condition as it involves major blood loss.
When Brennan realized that the yearling was suffering from this condition, her heart went out to the young horse. “I acquired him by default.” She explains. “Once the necrotic tendon had happened, his original owners walked away from him. So he was kind of left in my care, left in my ownership.” The necrotic tendon healed during Oscar’ first year with Brennan, but then reoccurred more recently (ten years later).
“He was sound in the morning for his feed, and acutely lame with an open wound where the infection had blown through the back of his ankle in the afternoon.” Brennan was shocked by the sudden reoccurrence and took immediate action. “We sent him to The Sanctuary the next morning for treatment in the hyperbaric chamber.”
The Sanctuary Equine Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation Center in Ocala, Florida, offers advanced specialized treatments such as the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy treatment that Oscar first received. The Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy began working on Oscar by supplying the necrotic tissues in his leg with increased amounts of oxygen. Other procedures soon followed. “We did Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, laser, leg spa, vibration plate, magnawave, and a tremendous amount of TLC.” Explains Brenda McDuffee, General Manager of The Sanctuary.
The Laser Therapy was used to revitalize and reactivated cells in the dead tissue. In the Cold Saltwater Leg Spa, the swelling around Oscar’s tendon was reduced to allow blood to begin circulating properly. Vertical Vibration Plate Therapy also aided in the circulation process. Oscar’s injured cells were restored with electric charges from the Electromagnetic Pulse Therapy.
“Oscar is still at The Sanctuary, and he is thriving there.” Brennan said, relieved that her horse’s serious condition has turned around for the better. “The Sanctuary was simply incredible. They never gave up on him, and tried every conceivable treatment possible. They went above and beyond the care expected and, honestly, he is only with us today because of the extraordinary care he received there. I think a combination of everything they did and the care he received made the difference.”
Brennan knows that Oscar’s story easily could have had a different ending, and she credits The Sanctuary for giving the thoroughbred another chance at life. “Oscar has made a complete recovery and is now enjoying time out in the paddock. Once again, a miracle.”
For more information about The Sanctuary Equine Sports Therapy & Rehabilitation Center, its success stories, and the treatments it provides, visit www.sanctuaryequinerehab.com.