- Lameness is a common problem in all kinds of horses from children’s ponies and happy hackers to elite performance animals. At Chine House Veterinary Hospital, our team of veterinary surgeons are very experienced in investigating lameness in the horse. Lameness investigations usually start with a thorough clinical examination and gait assessment. Clinical examination will usually include observation, palpation and manipulation of the musculoskeletal system. Gait assessment may include evaluation in a straight line, on the lunge, on hard and soft surfaces, and in walk, trot or canter. We will often observe the horse whilst being ridden because this may be the only time that lameness becomes apparent.
- We have a dedicated assessment area where the vets can observe horses walking and trotting in hand and lunging on both hard and soft surfaces. Additionally, there is a large manège where we can observe horses being ridden either by their usual riders or by our own experienced riders if necessary.
What is involved
- Whilst in some cases the cause of lameness may be easy to elicit by clinical examination and gait evaluation, in others, more extensive and time consuming investigations are required. This may include diagnostic analgesia (“nerve blocks”), in which local anaesthetic solution is injected around a nerve or directly into a joint or a synovial cavity, thereby temporarily desensitising a particular area of the limb. Following injection of local anaesthetic solution, the horse’s gait is reassessed to determine whether there has been improvement in lameness or performance. This enables the veterinary surgeon to determine which part of the limb is painful and contributing to lameness. In most lameness investigations, diagnostic imaging is used to help determine the cause of lameness. The type of imaging used will depend on the nature of the lameness but is likely to include radiography and ultrasonography. In some cases, advanced imaging modalities such as MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or nuclear scintigraphy (‘bone-scan’), may be indicated. For these, we would refer you to another hospital which is equipped with these specific facilities.
- In 2017 Chine House invested in a new tool for lameness investigation at the clinic, the Equinosis Q inertial sensor lameness system (lameness locator). The Equinosis Q system offers precise and objective identification of gait asymmetry using microelectric sensors positioned on the poll, pelvis and pastern of the horse. The system is particularly useful in the investigation of subtle or multi-limb lameness as well as to gauge the effectiveness of treatment. It is also helpful when monitoring rehabilitation programmes. The system is used in combination with standard lameness investigation techniques and can be used on all surfaces.
- Once the cause of lameness has been established, we will be able to advise you on appropriate treatment and management strategies. This may include medication, surgery, farriery and exercise programmes.
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