Investigating lameness in horses can be extremely challenging. Localising the source of lameness can sometimes take several visits and involve multiple techniques. Although this may appear expensive at the time, an accurate diagnosis will save unnecessary expense on inappropriate treatments and ensure you have a suitable management plan to get your horse back to 100%.
An initial lameness investigation involves the examination of the horse at rest. We examine the whole horse; observing, palpating and manipulating each limb and joint. The horse is then examined moving, first at the walk and then at the trot in a straight line. Flexion tests will then be performed followed by observing the horse lunged on both a soft and a hard surface. In some cases, the lameness may only be apparent when the horse is ridden.
Once the lame limb or limbs have been identified, our veterinarians will discuss with you whether imaging is indicated or if nerve blocks are required to further localise the lameness. Nerve blocks are the only objective way to determine where the source of pain that is causing the lameness is located. Nerve blocks numb areas of the limb and if the source of pain is within the area blocked, then the lameness will be abolished. Each nerve block can take 5-30 minutes to work completely, so allow a bit of extra time in case multiple nerve blocks are required.
Once the lameness has been localised to a certain region with nerve blocks, we can use various imaging techniques to help determine the underlying cause. This includes the use of our portable x-ray, and/or ultrasound machines.
- Treatment/management/recommendations e.g. joint injections, podiatry