We are dedicated to providing the very best in equine veterinary care for the health, performance and breeding of the sport horse
Lameness is the most frequent cause of reduced performance we see in horses. Some lameness can be very obvious and easy to diagnose, but subtle lameness can often go unnoticed and lead to poor performance and an unwillingness to work. It is important that these low grade lamenesses are also correctly diagnosed and treated, in order to optimise the athletic capabilities of your horse. It is a pre-requisite for successful treatment that a precise diagnosis is achieved.
We are well equipped for lameness investigations in the clinic both in terms of expertise and facilities. A lameness investigation will usually begin with a full orthopedic examination, analysis of your horse’s gait at the walk and trot on the straight, followed by flexion tests and examination on the lunge on a hard and soft circle and under saddle if indicated too.
We have a purpose-built lameness investigation area with an enclosed trot up strip and an outdoor and indoor arena, so we can examine a horse’s movements on different surfaces on the lunge and under saddle. Unless the cause of the lameness is apparent following examination, nerve or joint blocks will be undertaken to localise the source of the lameness.
Nerve blocks involve the injection of local anesthetic around a nerve, thereby numbing the structures innervated by that nerve, so the horse will no longer feel pain in that area. If a horse becomes sounder after a nerve block, it indicates that the source of pain was coming from the area that particular nerve innervates.
After an area has been localised by nerve blocks or joint blocks, diagnostic imaging including digital radiography (x-rays), and/or ultrasound may be utilised to achieve a specific diagnosis. In some cases, the horse may need to be referred for an MRI scan or a bone scan.
Once a diagnosis has been reached, treatment may be indicated, these include:
- Joint medications – corticosteroids, HA, Arthramid
- Platelet rich plasma
- Shockwave therapy
Complex lameness cases can take a while to get to the bottom of, so we might recommend your horse stays in the clinic overnight to continue with workup/treatment the following day.
Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) is a treatment that has been adapted from human medicine for use in the horse.
Shockwave works by generating pressure waves that are directed towards the damaged structure using a hand-held device. These pressure waves improve blood supply to the area which accelerates the horse’s natural repair mechanisms. The pressure waves have also been shown to have an effect on the nerve endings, making them less sensitive to pain. This gives an immediate pain-killing effect in addition to stimulating healing and reducing inflammation in the affected area.
Shockwave therapy has been found to be particularly useful for injuries at the soft tissue-bone interface, i.e the attachement of ligaments to bone. We routinely use shockwave therapy for:
- Suspensory ligament injuries
- Collateral ligament injuries
- Navicular Syndrome
- Sacro-iliac injuries
- Kissing spine and back pain
Shockwave treatments can be performed at your yard and a course of treatment are usually required, normally once weekly for 4 weeks or so, depending on the individual case.
Most horses tolerate shockwave well, although some horses do require some light sedation for the treatment.