Printer Friendly

Clinical management of degenerative joint disease in a cow.


Degenerative joint disease is the most common joint disorder of dogs and cats (Hulse, 1998). Frequency of occurrence of Degenerative Joint Disease in ruminants is far less than infectious arthritis. Draught purpose cattle and buffaloes are more prone (Singh and Rishi Tayal, 1995) and hip and stifle joints are affected with higher frequency (Scott et al., 2011). The present paper communicates a case of Degenerative Joint Disease of a carpal joint caused by traumatic injury in a cow and its management.

History and Observation

A 6 years old pluriparous Holstein Friesian cross breed cow was referred with history that the animal met with an accident about two months back and the injured limb was immobilized by a local traditional healer using bamboo splints for the fracture in right forelimb. Since then the animal showed progressive lameness and preferred long periods of recumbency. Clinical examination revealed atrophy of the muscles, firm enlargement of the right carpal joint, stiff and stilted gait and the animal could not bear weight on its right forelimb. There was a crepitus during active flexion of the joint with reduced flexion of the carpal joint and evinced pain on flexion. Synovial fluid examination of the carpal joint ruled out infectious arthritis. Radiography of the carpal joint revealed that there was narrowing of the joint space, sclerosis of the subchondral bone, marginal osteophyte formation, periosteal bone proliferation and old articular fracture of metacarpal bone (Fig.1). From the clinical and radiological observation, it was concluded as case of Degenerative Joint Disease of carpal joint. The prognosis was informed to the owner. He preferred to treat the animal as it was recently calved and wanted to maintain the animal for feeding its female calf.



Deep soft bedding was provided to decrease the mechanical forces acting on the joint. The animal was given rest and therapeutic exercise to avoid further atrophy and adhesion formation within the joint. This was achieved by making the animal to walk freely in a soft area twice daily. Hot hydrotherapy at the carpal joint for 5 minutes was given thrice daily to alleviate pain and to reduce tension in the inflamed tissue. A soothing massage was given by kneading the muscles gently around the joint with fingertips using a small, circular motion twice daily to relieve stiffness. Inj. Meloxicam (Melonex (a)) 15 ml was given daily for one month to reduce the inflammatory component of the disease and to provide analgesia.


Degenerative Joint Disease is a complex physiologic process that can destroy articular cartilage and cripple animals. The factors causing Degenerative Joint Disease remained unclear and a combination of several factors, trauma and faulty confirmation being prominent appeared to operate. Degenerative Joint Disease appears to be initiated by injuries which create greater shearing stresses, on particular points, in contrast to the intermittent compressive stresses typical of ordinary weight bearing. These irregular stresses result in chondrocyte necrosis, release of degradative enzymes, synovitis and continued cartilage destruction, inflammation, increased density of subchondral bone at points of physical stress and proliferation of bone and cartilage at the articular margin. Abnormal cartilage congruency and joint capsule anatomy can further lead to alteration in normal joint biomechanical function. There is moderate lameness with extensive muscle wastage over the affected limb. Swelling of the affected joints is readily palpable. The larger weight bearing joints are most often affected (Radostitis et al., 1994).

Articular fracture requires perfect anatomical reduction and fixation to prevent Degenerative Joint Diseases (Newton, 1985). In the present case trauma to the joint, articular fracture of meta carpal bone and abnormal mechanical stresses on the carpal joint caused by improper fracture reduction and immobilization of the fractures would have resulted in Degenerative Joint Disease.

Appropriate treatment can improve and extend quality of life dramatically in cattle (Videan et al., 2011). Rest, immobilization, physical therapy, intra-articular injection of corticosteroids, NSAIDs, intra-articular injection of sodium hyaluronate have all been used with various success (Mcllwraith, 1982). Meloxicam was used in the present case since Meloxicam is COX-2 (Cyclo oxygenase) specific inhibitor (Barnerm, 1996) and reported to be highly effective in chronic arthritis and synovitis (Bree et al., 1994). While other NSAIDs are COX-1 inhibitors with side effects in long term use (Jones et al., 1992). Rani et al., 2005 also used Meloxicam to treat Degenerative Joint Disease in a bull.

Though the Degenerative Joint Disease is a progressive and irreparable condition, considering the sentimental value of the animal it was treated

as suggested by Singh and Rishi Tayal loc.cit to control pain, to slow down the progression of the symptoms and to live comfortably.


A case of Degenerative Joint Disease of a right carpal joint caused by traumatic injury in a cow and its management is reported.


Barnerm, A. (1996). Scand. J. Rheumatol. Suppl. (Norway) 102: 29.

Bree, H.V., Justus, C., Quirke, J.R and Van Bree, H. (1994). Vet. Res. Comm. 18: 217.

Hulse, D (1998). Vet. Clin. North Am. Small Anim. Pract. 28:361.

Jones, R.D., Baynes, R.E and Nimitz, C.T.(1992). J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc. 201: 475.

Mcllwraith, C.W. (1982). J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc. 180:239.

Newton, C.D (1985). Textbook of Small Animal Orthopaedics. Ed. By C.D. Newton and D.M. Nunakaker, International Veterinary Information Service, Ithaca.

Radostits, O.M, Blood, D.C. and Gay, C.C (1994). Veterinary Medicine, 8th edn., ELBS Bailliere Tindall, London. P. 522.

Rani, R.U., Vairavasamy, K and Sivaseelan, S. (2005). Ind. Vet. J. 82: 79-80.

Scott, P.R. Penny, C.D and Macrae, A.I. (2011). Musculoskeletal diseases. In: Cattle Medicine. Manson Publishing Ltd., UK. P.190.

Singh, A.P. and Rishi Tayal (1995). Ruminant Surgery, Ed. by R.P.S. Tyagi and Jit Singh, CBS Publishers and Distributors, Delhi, p. 318.

Scott, P.R., Penny, C.D., Macrae, A.L. (2011). Cattle Medicine. Manson Publishing ltd. UK.

Videan, Lammey, E.L, Lee, M.L and Rick, D. (2011). J. Am. Assoc. Lab. Anim. Sci. 50: 263.

R. Uma Rani (1), K. Vairavasamy

Veterinary University Training and Research Centre Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University Thirupparankundram Madurai--625005 (Tamil Nadu)

(1). Corresponding Author


(a)--Brand of Intas Animal Health, Ahmedabad
COPYRIGHT 2012 Intas Pharmaceuticals Limited
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Short Communication
Author:Rani, R. Uma; Vairavasamy K.
Publication:Intas Polivet
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Jul 1, 2012
Previous Article:Elbow hygroma and its surgical management in a horse.
Next Article:Carpal hygroma and its surgical excision in a cow.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters