Etiology and Occurrence.—Exclusive of specific or metastatic arthritis, which is seldom observed except in young animals, inflammation of the elbow joint is usually caused by injury. This articulation is not subject to pathologic changes due to concussion or sprains as occasioned by ordinary service, but is frequently injured by contusion from falls, blows from the wagon-pole and kicks. Wounds which affect the elbow joint, then, may be thought of in most cases, as resultant from external violence. They may be contused wounds or penetrant wounds. Sharp shoe-calks afford a means of infliction of penetrant wounds which may occasion open joint and infectious arthritis.
Classification.—A practical manner of classifying inflammation of the elbow is on an etiological basis. Eliminating the forms of elbow inflammation, such as are caused by metastatic infection and other conditions which properly belong to the domain of theory of practice, we may consider this affection under the classification of contusive wounds and penetrative wounds.
Symptomatology.—Any injury which is of sufficient violence to occasion inflammation of the elbow causes marked lameness and manifestation of pain. The degree of lameness and distress manifested by the subject, depends upon the nature and extent of the involvement. A contusion suffered as the result of a fall, which occasions a circumscribed inflammation of the structures covering this joint and where little inflammation of the articulating parts exists, marked evidence of pain and lameness might be absent. On the other hand, if a true arthritis is incited, there will be evident distress manifested, such as hurried respiration, accelerated pulse, inappetence, mixed lameness, local evidence of inflammation and particularly marked supersensitiveness of the affected parts. Considering these two extremes of manifested distress and injury, one may readily conclude that in the frequently seen case, wherein contusion has occasioned a moderate degree of injury, prognosis is favorable and recovery ordinarily follows in the course of a few weeks’ treatment.
In cases of arthritis due to penetrative wounds (because of the important function of this joint and its large capsule, which when inflamed discharges synovia in a manner that closure of such an open joint is seldom possible) a very grave condition results.
Treatment.—Inflammation of the elbow, such as is frequently seen in general practice where horses are turned out together and exposed to kicks and other injuries, yields to treatment readily, if an open joint does not exist.
Hot packs supported in contact with the elbow and kept around the inflamed articulation for a few days, materially decrease pain and tend to reduce inflammation. The subject must be kept quiet in a comfortable stall and, if necessary, a sling used. Where it is impossible for the animal to support much weight with the injured member the sling should be employed.