Science > Case Study > Bowed Tendon
Bowed Tendon
12 hours after initial injury.
5 weeks after injury.


Holly is a Canadian Thoroughbred who competes as an intermediate three-day Eventer. During the steeplechase phase of a three day event, Holly “bowed” her tendon. She came into the 10-minute box with a very enlarged distal limb and was grade 4/5 lame (noticeable head bob and shortening of stride). She was taken to The Equine Center, San Luis Obispo, for evaluation.

The leg was hot and painful to palpation with enlargement of the flexor tendons. An ultrasound exam revealed a severe “bow” of the superficial digital flexor tendon (grade 4 with enlargement of the fiber pattern resulting in a core lesion). Holly was immediately prescribed phenylbutazone (bute) to ease the pain and decrease the inflammation. Adjunct therapy involved the application the Game Ready® Equine cold and compression system for 30-minute treatments every 2 hours for the first 24 hours.

Swelling in the limb causes congestion and impaired circulation which retard the healing process. Because the Game Ready System provides both cold and compression, it plays a vital role in reducing inflammation. The compression provided by Game Ready acts to decrease the edema or swelling of the limb and improve circulation. The cold therapy acts to decrease sensitivity and reduce pain in addition to causing vasoconstriction — thus decreasing inflammation.

After four days of therapy, utilizing bute and Game Ready, Holly’s leg showed impressive improvement and was ready for surgical splitting of the tendon. Post-operatively, Game Ready therapy continued to aid in healing and — because the system is a dry cold application — treatment could be reinstated immediately following surgery. After six weeks, Holly is starting rehabilitation with hand walking, soon to be followed by walking under saddle. She has a good prognosis to return to her career due to diligent and aggressive combined therapy and surgical intervention.

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