If you are bringing a horse in for a lameness examination, it is helpful (within reason) to have the horse as lame as possible on the day of examination. With low grade chronic lameness, it is best not to rest the horse prior to examination, and also it is usually best that the horse has not received antiinflammatory medication (no Bute or Flunixil ) prior to examination. Discuss with the team if your horse has a severe or acute lameness and obviously requires pain relief for comfort.
The lameness examination will include a history from the client and an initial physical examination of the horse including palpation, walk/trot & sometimes canter (lead & lunge). Then a series of flexion tests may be required followed by Nerve blocks to isolate the area where the lameness is coming from.
Nerve blocks are performed using the same drugs (local anaesthetics) used to numb your mouth when you go to the dentist. The principle is that if the horse can’t feel the painful area, then he/she will go sound whilst the nerve block is working. The drug can be injected straight into a joint, or it can be injected around the nerves (perineural) as they run down the leg.
As individual nerve blocks can take up to an hour to work, and some horses may need to have multiple nerve blocks performed to reach the site of the lameness, you should anticipate a consultation lasting an hour or more, and plan your day accordingly.
Once the site of the lameness has been isolated, your horse may then undergo radiographic or ultrasound examination. This is especially true in hind limbs, where up to 25% of lameness may be in the pelvic area, which cannot be blocked using local anaesthesia.
Selected cases may be candidates for nuclear scintigraphy ('bone scan’). These cases will be referred to a referral veterinary centre.
The use of ultrasound technology is an essential diagnostic tool for the equine veterinarian. The most common use of ultrasound at Weatherford Equine is for the detailed examination of the reproductive tracts of mares during the breeding season. The other most common usage for ultrasound is the examination of the tendons and ligaments of the horses lower limb. We can also use ultrasound to examine chests, abdomens, muscles and other soft tissues of the body. Read more...