If you cannot see images at all on my site click here for an explanation
Medical Index
First Posted: Sept 5, 2012
Sep 5, 2013

Physitis in Foals

What is physitis? Physitis is an inflammation of the growth plates in the long bones of the growing foal. The most affected bones are the lower radius, just above the knee, the lower metacarpus or metatarsus, cannon bones, and the lower tibia just above the hock. The foal may be showing stiffness in the affected leg or be very lame. Usually there is swelling in the area of the growth plate. When you touch it you will feel heat in the area and the foal may react with pain when touched. Other problems can present in very much the same way such as osteochondrosis (OCD) lesions, flexural or angular limb deformities or bacterial infection in the growth plate. Radiographic examination is often used for a diagnosis.

Note: "A bone is divided into regions, each with a different name. The long shaft is called the diaphysis, the region flaring to the growth plate is called the metaphysis, and the end of the bone where the articular (joint) cartilage is found is called the epiphysis. The growth plate is located between the metaphysis and epiphysis and allows the bone to grow in length (and, therefore, allows the horse to grow in height prior to 'closing'. ..." Physitis

Note: "Open knees" is a term which means the cartilage has not yet changed to bone at the distal radius (just above the knees). So in the quote above that is what prior to closing means.


  • Nutrition
  • Trauma
  • Excessive weight bearing on a growth plate (limb deformities)
  • Infection

  • Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs with the use of a gastroprotectant
  • Balance hoofs
  • If infection antibiotics
  • Restrict exercise
  • Monitor nutrition

Always check with your vet.

Generally, physitis resolves itself in time. However, care must be taken to minimize further problems such as OCD.

For More Information:

Growing Pains-Physitis

Medical Index