This section is from the book "The Farmers Ready Reference Or Hand Book Of Diseases Of Horses And Cattle", by S. C. Orr. . Also available from Amazon: The Farmer's Ready Reference;.
Sometimes when a wound is near a joint the synovial sac is opened and the synovial fluid (joint water) is allowed to escape and then it becomes more serious. If the sac has only been punctured with some sharp-pointed instrument, and the bone has not been injured, it is not so serious as when the sac has been laid open to some extent and the surrounding tissues badly lacerated. If the irritation is sufficient to cause the formation of pus in the joint, the articular cartilage becomes destroyed and the only hope of a cure lies in anchylosis (union of the bones) and making the joint stiff. Sometimes, where there is great laceration of the tissues, sloughing sets in, fever runs high, the appetite fails and the poor animal suffers such pain that it is an act of mercy to kill it and put it out of misery.
Treatment. - If there is a punctured wound and open joint is suspicioned, which will be from the flow of synovia, do not probe the wound to ascertain its depth, as this will only increase the irritation, but treat it only on supposition rather than destroy all chance of a cure by trying to learn the facts. Sponge the wound with carbolized water (one teaspoonful of acid to the pint of water) then mix together equal parts of flour and ground flaxseed and mix into a poultice with boiling water. When this gets cold spread it on a cloth and bind on the wound; keep the animal as quiet as possible and change the poultice once a day.
But if the wound is lacerated and pus begins to form, treat as follows: Take carbolic acid, one drachm; glycerine, two drachms; add flour enough to form a stiff paste. Cleanse the wound by injecting water over it carefully with a syringe, then make a plug of the paste and put it in the opening of the joint, then apply the poultice as before, only omit the flour and make it of pure ground flaxseed. This poultice and plug both must be changed twice a day until the pus ceases and clear synovia alone flows from the joint, when the plug of paste should be omitted and the flour added to the poultice again and applied as before until the opening is entirely closed. The horse must be kept as quiet as possible; he should not be led out. but feed and water should be carried to him.
All cases of lameness or injury should be attended to at once. A little delay often precludes all possibility of a cure. Complete rest from labor should be given; give the run of a box stall or small yard away from other animals. Pain increases thirst; do not let an animal suffer for water.