During any stage of a horse's life, it's possible for him or her to develop lameness. Usually, lameness occurs from strain, injury, or stress. It's vital to seek out the care of a skilled veterinarian like Dr. Jud Easterwood for a lameness examination if you notice any signs of your horse having difficulty walking.
Gathering Information About Your Horse's Medical History and Lifestyle
Information about your horse's medical history and lifestyle can help our vet accurately diagnose the cause of the lameness. The staff at Easterwood Equine Hospital will ask you questions specifically related to lameness, such as when it first began.
We'll acquire information about your horse's age and breed. Horses are more likely to develop certain issues as they age while some breeds are more prone to certain problems. During this part of the lameness examination, Dr. Easterwood will ask about your horse's training regimen and any information about riding. We'll also ask you for information about when your horse was last shod.
About the Physical Examination
The second part of your horse's lameness examination consists of a physical examination. Dr. Easterwood will assess your horses at rest to check his or her balance and ability to bear weight. Dr. Easterwood will look for any obvious signs of an injury or stress at this point as well. The physical exam may also include watching your horse walk. By analyzing your horse in motion, our practitioner can look for signs of a problem, such as gait deviations, short strides, unusual weight shifting, stiffness, etc.
Dr. Easterwood will also perform a hands-on exam by checking your horse's tendons, muscles, bones, and joints for any evidence of swelling, pain, or other abnormalities. A joint flexion test consists of our veterinarian holding your horse's limb and bending it. When your horse moves afterward, our vet evaluates his movement for irregularities and signs of pain.
At the appointment, our practitioner may use a hoof tester, which is a device that applies pressure to the bottom of your horse's feet. It evaluates the soles for sensitivity and pain.
Imaging and Further Diagnostics
Sometimes, the physical examination and medical history portion of the appointment is enough to diagnose the problem. However, it's possible our vet will want to conduct further testing.
Nerve and joint blocks are one possible diagnostic. Dr. Easterwood performs this procedure by temporarily stopping sensation to different areas until your horse's lameness subsides. Ultimately, this helps Dr. Easterwood determine where the problem is as well as if it's treatable.
At Easterwood Equine Hospital we may use radiography to identify the location of any damage or changes within the tissue. Dr. Easterwood can look at ligaments, tendons, and structures with the horse's joint. Other options include sonography, arthroscopy, and fluid samples, among others.
Once we diagnose the cause of the lameness, Dr. Easterwood will decide on the appropriate course of action. Sometimes, it's prescribing medication to help manage the pain along with encouraging you to make sure your horse receives adequate rest while he or she heals. Some other treatments may include a bandage, wound dressing, or antibiotics.
Lameness can be painful for your horse. Dr. Easterwood realizes the seriousness of lameness and will diagnose and treat the problem. To learn more about or schedule an equine lameness exam, contact Easterwood Equine Hospital today at (205) 663-4000.