StoneBridge News

Return to news stories

Joint Disorder in Horses - 26-09-2011


Degenerative Joint Disorder (DJD) is a disease of the synovial joints associated with the development of progressive chronic cartilage damage. Clinical signs of the disease will include:

Joint inflammation


Reduced mobility



The cartilage damage should not be regarded as a passive loss of cartilage tissue, but rather as a disruption of the metabolism of CHONDROCYTES - the cells responsible for cartilage maintenance and integrity. Such a disruption produces an overall catabolic state within the tissue resulting in a loss of COLLAGEN and PROTEOGLYCANS which are the main components of cartilage.

A review of the most recent research into the treatment of DJD reveals that attention has concentrated on the relief of pain, the prevention of further degradation and the restoration of as much joint mobility as possible. Clinical interest has developed in compounds that can be administered orally as food supplements which may have the potential to modify the rate of degeneration in cases of DJD.

Only 4 of the substances currently available have any scientific justification, namely CHONDROITIN SULPHATE, GLUCOSAMINE, METHYL SULPHONYL METHANE (MSM) and HYALURONIC ACID. Research has shown these substances to protect the cartilage cells and produce obvious clinical improvement.

CHONDROITON SULPHATE is a major component of cartilage. Its key function is to attract fluid into the cartilage so that it can absorb shock, lubricate the joint and maintain a spongy texture. It also inhibits the build up of degenerative enzymes in the joint and increases the production of synovial fluid.

GLUCOSAMINE is an amino-monosaccharide that is found in many cells. Its basic structure is sugar and amino acids which are part of the structure of a variety of connective tissues including cartilage, joint capsules, ligaments and tendons. This makes Glucosamine one of the key components necessary for cartilage production.

MSM is a naturally occurring sulphur compound which has strong anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties.

HYALURONIC ACID is a major component of synovial fluid surrounding the joint, largely composed of monopolysaccharide material which is easily absorbed. It provides lubrication and helps in maintaining the ability of the joint to absorb shock and smooth joint movement.

There are now many well structured and documented studies demonstrating the beneficial effects, both in terms of joint function improvement and reduced levels of joint pain that can be achieved by feeding chondro-protective food supplements containing the above ingredients.