Lameness is one of the most common causes of poor performance in the horse and horses are presented to HorsmedSA on a daily basis to have their lameness’s investigated by our experienced veterinarians.
We investigate racehorses, eventers, dressage, showjumpers, endurance, western and many more disciplines as well as the general purpose pleasure riding horse.
A lameness investigation will begin with a clinical examination including palpation and manipulation of the musculoskeletal system, hoof tester application, examination in a straight line and on the lunge or in circles in both directions. Flexion tests of the individual limbs will be undertaken. In some cases lameness may require observation under saddle.
Lameness examination requires a systematic approach and may take time to investigate thoroughly and provide answers to the client.
Nerve blocks can be performed once the affected limb or limbs has been localized. Nerve blocks will help to confirm the location of the lameness although there are some limitations. Nerve blocks can be either extra-articular or intra-articular. Nerve blocks are placed and following a period of time the lamness can be reassessed. If the nerve block has localized the lameness the lameness will resolve or improve to a certain percentage.
The next step in a lameness examination is diagnostic imaging. This may include digital radiography and/or ultrasonography. Occasionally more advanced diagnostics modalities are required. This includes bone scan (scintigraphy unit), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT).
Once the cause of the lameness is identified a treatment and management plan will be advised and put in place. This may include surgical and/or medical options. It can include a rest period, controlled exercise, medication such as intra-articular, anti-inflammatory and supportive treatment and remedial farrier work.