Microdamage in the equine superficial digital flexor tendon

Claire O' Brien (Lead Author), Neil Marr, Dr. Chavaunne Thorpe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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The forelimb superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT) is an energy-storing tendon that is highly susceptible to injury during activities such as galloping and jumping, such that it is one of the most commonly reported causes of lameness in the performance horse. This review outlines the biomechanical and biothermal effects of strain on the SDFT and how these contribute to the accumulation of microdamage. The effect of age-related alterations on strain response and subsequent injury risk is also considered. Given that tendon is a slowly healing and poorly regenerative tissue, prompt detection of early stages of pathology in vivo and timely adaptations to training protocols are likely to have a greater outcome than advances in treatment. Early screening tools and detection protocols could subsequently be of benefit in identifying subclinical signs of degeneration during the training programme. This provides an opportunity for preventative strategies to be implemented to minimise incidences of SDFT injury and reduce recovery periods in elite performance horses. Therefore, this review will focus on the modalities available to implement early screening and prevention protocols as opposed to methods to diagnose and treat injuries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-430
Number of pages14
JournalEquine Veterinary Journal
Issue number3
Early online date02 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 08 Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • SDFT
  • horse
  • injury prevention
  • tendinopathy
  • tendonitis
  • Animals
  • Horse Diseases/diagnosis
  • Horses
  • Tendon Injuries/diagnosis
  • Wound Healing
  • Forelimb
  • Tendons


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