Bowed Tendons: A bowed tendon is a term used for a tendon after a horse has sustained an injury that caused the tendon fibers to be torn, and then healed with a “bowed” appearance.These are an examples of two bowed tendons, but these horses are still racing! In fact, they are racing very well and the one that looks worse (bigger) is actually racing better than the other.
When the SDFT goes through an acute injury, which can be minor tears of the fibers (looks kind of like “swiss cheese” in the ultrasound) or one big tear, the tendon starts a healing process usually in which most of the tissue that fills in is connective tissue.
When the tendon heals it’s usually bigger and not as “strong” as it was before the injury, so it is prone to more tears. Actually most of the “new” tears happen above or below the previously healed area because this is an area with more scar tissue and less elastic fibers so it is more static then elastic. Most of the time, surgery to cut the Annular Ligament that constricts the movement of the tendon is warranted, if the tendon has not gone down significantly after the acute injury. The surgery is called “Annular Ligament Desmotomy“. Without the surgery there is a lot of tension on the tendon where it meets the annular ligament which provokes pain (the annular ligament desmotomy is described in another article).