The localization and treatment of lameness can be challenging, especially in cases with only subtle performance issues. Oak Valley Veterinary Services understands the importance of a thorough lameness exam to evaluate and accurately diagnose your horse’s lameness issues.

During a lameness exam, joints of all four limbs are examined for range of motion, swelling, and pain. All tendons and ligaments are also palpated for pain, heat, and swelling. Hoof testers are used to identify discomfort in the hooves, and careful palpation of other areas such as the back, sacrum, and neck are also performed.

The horse is then examined in hand at a walk and trot on both hard and soft ground. Occasionally, we will also observe locomotion under the saddle if indicated. Flexion tests are performed on all 4 limbs.

Once the affected limb(s) are identified, further localization of the lameness is achieved with regional nerve blocks. Digital radiology, ultrasound, or referral for MRI is then used to identify the source of the lameness within the isolated area.

Lameness affects individual horses of all levels, from the backyard horse to our top performing equine athletes. Treatment options for vary depending on the diagnosis and long term goals. Ultimately, the treatment selected will depend on many factors.

Lameness management often requires a teamwork approach that includes a veterinarian and a skilled farrier. Nearly 80% of forelimb lameness is the result of foot pain. Therefore, we utilize a therapeutic farrier to assist in the management of our patients with foot problems. These conditions commonly include laminitis, subsolar abscesses, white line disease, navicular syndrome, hoof wall defects and conformational issues.