There are numerous causes for your horse to be lame, this can make diagnosis difficult and be stressful for yourself. Our equine vets will aim to deal with the problem succinctly and compassionately to reduce the stress. We can use a combination of clinical examination, flexion tests, nerve blocks, ultrasound and x-ray to come to the correct diagnosis.
Nerve blocks involve the injection of local anaesthetic around the nerves at various points of the limb to block sensation below the injection site. If the lameness improves or is eradicated we can localise the problem to a specific area and then concentrate our diagnostic efforts accordingly. Many horses will accept nerve blocks as the needles we use are very fine; occasionally however, it will be necessary to use a short acting sedative to get our patients to stand politely.
Ultrasound is particularly useful for diagnosing and monitoring soft tissue problems, such as flexor tendon injuries. Our machine enables us to accurately diagnose injuries such as tears and sprains and then to check how healing is progressing once the recovery phase has started.
X-ray is useful for imaging the bony structures of the leg and is particularly useful for examining the foot, i.e. in laminitis, and also joints and bones within the limb, such as the navicular bone. It can be used for both the diagnosis of problems and the monitoring of response to treatment. Our x-ray machine is portable so we are able to come to your home or yard and take the radiographs, before coming back to the surgery to develop them digitally. Occasionally we may need to sedate your horse to take suitable radiographs, as it is vital that they are not moving at the time of the x-ray, this will be discussed on a case by case basis. We also recognise that the health and safety of all persons present when taking x-rays is of the utmost importance and we will only proceed with the taking of x-rays if we consider it safe to do so.
If your horse is lame, or you are suspicious that there may be an issue affecting performance, please call us straight away; it is often easier to diagnose and treat a disease or injury earlier in the disease process than later.