I have a wonderful vet who just put my horse on Adequan which I am very happy about. My only question is can I now stop with oral joint supplements, this can be very costly. Thanks CS, Florida
I agree, having a horse on both oral and injectable joint support can get expensive. However, I may be able to explain the differences between the two approaches as well as proper use of each to help you maximize the benefits while minimizing the costs.
Adequan® I.M. is the only disease-modifying osteoarthritis drug on the market approved by the FDA for the treatment of non-infectious degenerative joint disease. It contains polysulfated glycosaminoglycan, a naturally-occurring complex molecule that is the essential building block of the cartilage matrix. It travels into injured joints and stimulates production of new cartilage while relieving the symptoms of non-infectious DJD.
The really important thing to understand about Adequan is that it MUST be given just like it says on the package, which is one 500mg intramuscular injection once every four days for seven treatments. This is the only dose that has been proven to reverse the effects of degenerative joint disease. There is no official maintenance dose from the company such as once-a-month injections. Once-a-month dosing will offer relief for a four day period but is unable to reestablish the cartilage that has degraded from training, conformation or age-related changes. A more effective regime both in terms of cost and benefit to the joints would be a seven dose series twice a year to address DJD that is ongoing.
That is where oral joint supplements come in! Daily supplementation with hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulfate (a polysulfated glycosaminoglycan) and glucosamine can help keep the building blocks of healthy joint tissue available when needed. Research has shown not only that all three ingredients are absorbed by the horse but also appear in significant amounts in joint tissue. A study by Martha Rodgers that appeared in Intern J Appl Res Vet Med. Vol 4, No 2, 2006, pp155-162 concluded that “consistent use of an oral glucosamine/chondroitin supplement resulted in a decreased need for distal tarsal joint injections to maintain soundness in a group of show hunters/jumpers.”
Now, this particular study refers to the injection of hyaluronic acid and or steroids directly into the joints, but what it says to me is that there is a place for both types of joint support in the horse: daily oral supplementation and injectable medication. Just make sure you give the oral joint supplement on a consistent, daily basis to maintain optimum levels of active ingredients in the body (SmartPaks are great for this!). As always, follow the manufacturer’s directions on the proper use of injectable joint medication. I hope that with this combined approach to joint health you are able to enjoy your horse for many years to come!