Lameness in the horse has many causes ranging from easily-corrected problems of hoof care to severe career-ending arthritis. ‘Equine Lameness‘ can be generally defined as a disability of locomotion.
Equine Lameness Services:
We have a long-standing relationship with many area farriers and often x-ray feet to evaluate bone and hoof capsule alignment so the farrier can be exactly sure of the foot structure on problematic horses. Many times a slight change in the hoof shape is a reflection of changes in the bone or tissue within and a careful farrier will observe this and request a radiographic evaluation in order to do the best job possible trimming and/or shoeing the horse.
Arthritis in performance horses is a common disorder and it is most important to determine the degree of the disease process. Management of arthritis can range from selecting the proper joint supplement in the early stages, to deciding on specific joint injections once the disease has progressed.
Overuse of (sprains or strains), or damage to (lacerations, tears) tendons, ligaments, and other soft tissue structures also result in lameness. A thorough examination may include joint flexions, lounging, riding, nerve blocks, x-rays, and ultrasound to specifically identify the problem area and allow us to formulate the best plan of treatment for getting your horse back to work (and play!).
Horse sports that require speed are especially impacted by small changes that may only cause slight pain. A barrel racing horse may appear to move normally walking around the pasture, but racing into an arena and spinning around a barrel applies much more stress and strain to muscles and joints. A yearly lameness evaluation can help identify slight problems before they become major. Often, a ‘wait and see’ approach to lameness allows further damage to occur, and may even prevent that horse from returning to athletic competition at his previous level.
Comprehensive lameness evaluations
Lameness is a large part of equine practice, and can be very stressful for the owner. Our lameness exams include observing the horse in-hand, on a lounge line, and perhaps under saddle. A thorough palpation of structures will follow, then flexion tests, possibly nerve or joint blocks in an effort to identify the location of the problem.
Digital radiography and ultrasound imaging
Once the generalized area of pain is identified, we often radiograph (x-ray) to evaluate bony changes, or ultrasound imaging to evaluate soft tissue such as tendons and ligaments. The changes we find with these modalities will determine our treatment plan.
Therapeutic joint injections
It is not uncommon in the performance horse world to find animals with various degrees of arthritis, especially in the hocks. There are joint injection medications that give the best results by being instilled directly into the affected joints.
Many cases of arthritis or soft tissue injury have a prolonged healing time with conventional treatment. The cutting edge field of regenerative medicine has decreased healing time dramatically, and usually results in a stronger repair. We have been using platelet rich plasma, IRAP, and stem cells for several years and our clients have been very pleased with the results. If your horse has a long standing injury with a long lay up ahead of him, give us a call and discuss these new therapies.
Podiatry and farrier consults
“No foot, no horse” is a saying that has probably been around since the days of dynastic Egypt, and still holds true today. Many horses are lame from foot issues that are often fixable with improved nutrition, appropriate supplements, and a discussion with a good farrier. We really enjoy helping to get a relatively simple problem on the road to recovery.
Danielle L. Bercier DVM CCRP
Equine Medical Services
15828 South Blvd.
Silverhill, AL 36576
Phone: (251) 945-7555
Emergency: (850) 380-7973