Given the almost constant
use they are put to, a horse's knees are vulnerable to stress, fatigue and traumatic
injury. It may be that your veterinarian has recommended a knee bandage to help
heal an injury or surgical site, or to provide support for a weak joint.
For whatever reason a knee bandage might be required, it is important to know
the correct way to apply one so it serves its intended purpose and doesn't harm
the horse in any way.
Knee bandages can help in the following ways.
- Prevent or reduce swelling
- Provide support for a
weak or injured joint
- Reduce motion in the joint
- Protect a wound or surgical
site from contamination or trauma
- Absorb fluids (exudate)
Because the front leg
is relatively straight and the knee bends and straightens as the horse moves
about, wrapping and securing the bandage will require some special know-how to
keep the bandage from ending up around the horse's pasterns like saggy socks.
Fortunately, most horses tolerate having a knee wrapped without much fuss. However,
it is always good to stay alert and be prepared to move out of harm's way should
your horse fidget, stamp its feet or react adversely while being bandaged.
As with any type of leg wrap, a knee bandage can be hazardous if applied incorrectly.
There is always the risk of constricting vessels, tendons and ligaments or causing
pressure sores if the layers are not applied smoothly, evenly and with just the
right amount of
Of particular concern with a knee bandage is preventing undue pressure on the
two prominent points at the back and inside of the knee. A bandage that's too
tight or incorrectly applied can cause sores to develop there.
If you have never bandaged a horse's legs before, ask your veterinarian or an
experienced equine professional to demonstrate the proper techniques. Practice
or her supervision before doing it on your own.
Due to the leg's columnar
shape and the fact that it's wider at the knee than at the cannon bone, you will
be working against gravity. You will likely have the best success with bandaging
materials that conform to the shape of the leg and permit movement without slipping
or loosening. A good elastic adhesive tape will be needed to keep the bandage
securely situated over the knee.
If the bandage will cover a wound or surgical site, the materials should also
You will need:
- Sterile, non-stick gauze
pads or dressing to cover wounds
- Sheet cotton, roll cotton,
combine cotton,or leg quilts for padding
- Flannels, stretch gauze,
stable wraps or stretch bandaging tape such as 3M'" Vetrap'" Bandaging
Tape at least 2-3 inches wide for support
- Stretch adhesive tape
such as Elastikon'" Elastic Adhesive Tape to protect, seal and secure the
- Cover the wound or surgical
site with sterile, non-stick gauze or dressing.
- Surround the knee with
soft, absorbent material, such as roll or sheet cotton, combine sheet or leg
quilts, creating a layer of padding at least 1 inch thick. Extend it 4-6 inches
above and below the knee and make sure it lies flat and wrinkle-free against
- Begin wrapping with support
bandaging fabric 4-6 inches below the knee and approximately one-half inch above
the lower edge of the padding.
- Wrap front to back, outside
to inside, spiraling upward while exerting just enough pull to stretch the fabric
to half its maximum extended length.
- Overlap each preceding
layer by 50 percent using smooth, uniform tension to compress the padding without
forming lumps or ridges beneath the bandage.
- Work up the leg until
the bandage extends 4-6 inches above the point of the knee, covering the padding
to within a half-inch of the edge.
- Depending on the nature
and location of the injury, your veterinarian will advise whether or not to cover
the accessory carpal bone at the back of the knee. It
may be necessary to cut out a hole in the bandage, or create a donut shaped pad,
over this point to prevent pressure sores.
- When bandaging, use enough
pressure to minimize swelling and keep the bandage in place, but never wrap so
tightly that you cannot easily slip a finger between the bandage and the leg.
- Do not wrap too loosely
as the bandage may slip or fail to do its job.
- Secure and seal the bandage
using a veterinary stretch adhesive tape at the top and bottom.
- If the bandage is to
remain in place for a time, or is being used to protect a wound or surgical site,
it may be advisable to completely cover the support wrap with a protective layer
to prevent dirt and debris from contaminating the bandage.
- If you have problems with
the knee bandage slipping, begin by wrapping the lower leg from coronet band
to several inches below the knee.* This"stack wrap" provides a foundation
for the knee bandage and will help keep it in place. Some situations may also
call for a full length bandage (ground to elbow) to adequately restrict motion
at the knee.
padding over sterile wound dressing
layer below the knee and spiral upward.
layer by 50% wrapping outside to inside
with flexible adhesive tape.
- Knees are vital structures. Any
injury to the joint or immediate, surrounding area should be evaluated by a veterinarian.
- A horse with a condition
requiring a knee bandage should be confined to a stall or small run unless otherwise
directed by your veterinarian.
- Check the bandage several
times a day to make sure it has not tightened, loosened or slipped out of place.
- Make sure the bandage
does not cut off circulation, compress tendons, create pressure sores (especially
over the accessory carpal bone), or cause skin irritation, redness or discomfort. Check
by making sure a finger can easily be slipped beneath the bandage.
- Monitor and evaluate the
horse carefully. If the swelling develops above or below the bandage, lameness
increases, or the horse becomes distressed or begins to bite, paw or rub the
bandaged site, check the leg and/or contact your veterinarian.
- Watch for any other signs
of ill health. IF the horse becomes depressed, irritable, loses its appetite
or has an elevated temperature, consult your veterinarian.
- Change the bandage as
directed by your veterinarian or at least every 2-3- days, or immediately if
it becomes wet or soiled.
AAEP Mission Statement
brochure was produced through a joint venture between 3M Animal Care Products
and the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
the health and welfare of the horse, to further the professional
development of;its members, and to provide resources and, leadership
for the benefit of the equine industry.
To order brochures, please call 1-800-848-0829.