The hock joint is a complex joint, comprising of several articulations between the tibial bone, tarsal bones and the third metacarpal bone.
The joints within the hock joint:
There is outward rotation of the third metatarsal bone during the swing phase, followed by a small inward rotation during stance, when the hock is compressed. As a result, during gallop the hindlimbs swing outside the forelimbs as the tarsus flexes and then move back toward the midline as the tarsus extends before landing, avoiding contact with the abdomen.
The hock joint is much lower than people expect, as shown in the images, and that’s why it is so important to know your musculoskeletal anatomy and exactly where the articulating bones are, in order to assess the functionality of the joint, perform stretches and mobilisations that affect the joint and apply modalities in the most effective way.
The hock joint is most commonly affected by osteoarthritis and this most commonly occurs within the distal intertarsal joints and the tarsometatarsal joints as their function is to absorb concussive forces during locomotion.
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