Diagnosing Lameness

All cases of lames are different but this post gives a general breakdown of some of the steps that may go into a lameness workup.

  1. Review of Medical History

Your vet will ask you questions about your horse and gather any information they may feel is relevant to the current situation.

  1. Visual Examination at Rest

By visually examining your horse at rest your vet can note its conformation, balance, weight-bearing and look for any signs of injury.

  1. Examination in Motion

Your vet may wish to see your horse in motion.  It may be required to be seen moving in a straight line, in circles, in hand or on the lunge. Occasionally your vet may also request to see your horse under saddle to get a more compete view of the presenting lameness.

  1. Hands on Exam

Your vet will palpate your horse, checking joints, bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments for any signs of injury or abnormality.

  1. Application of Hoof Testers

This piece of equipment allows your vet to apply pressure to areas of the foot to look for abnormal sensitivity or pain.

  1. Flexion Tests

Your vet will hold a leg in a flexed position for a period of time before evaluating your horse in motion once more. Your horses’ response to flexion tests can help identify the cause of the lameness.

  1. Nerve and Joint Blocks

Local anaesthetic can be injected into joints or around nerves to numb certain areas.  Blocking is a very useful diagnostic technique for identifying the location of a lameness.

  1. Imaging

Imaging is a further step towards identifying the cause of lameness. There are two main imaging techniques that can be brought to your horse, x-ray for bony structures and ultrasound for soft tissues. Other methods such as MRI, CT and scintigraphy are available but often require sending your horse to a hospital facility.

We offer state of the art digital x-rays which can be viewed instantly on a computer beside your horse and diagnostic ultrasound.

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