Lameness has been defined as any alteration of the horse’s gait. In addition, lameness can be manifest in such ways as a change in attitude or performance. These abnormalities can be caused by pain in the neck, withers, shoulders, back, loin, hips, legs or feet. Identifying the source of the problem is essential to proper treatment. In some cases diagnostic procedures are often necessary to truly determine the origin of the lameness. If the Veterinarian preforming the lameness exam has cause for concern he/she may recommend further testing, including diagnostic nerve or joint blocks, radiographs and/or ultrasound.
DIAGNOSTIC NERVE AND JOINT BLOCKS
Nerve and Joint blocks are used to identify the location of lameness. The “block” temporarily deadens sensation to specific segments of the limb, one region at a time, until the lameness disappears. This procedure isolates the area of pain causing the lameness. Blocks can also help determine the proper treatment.
Radiographs are very useful in identifying damage or changes to bony components of the body. Not all changes are cause for concern, often we see changes in aging horses or horses who have had a performance career. Often if there is something questionable seen on radiographs we have the ability to send them to a specialist in Radiology to review the images. Radiographs provide limited information about soft tissue, such as tendons, ligaments or structures inside the joints, which are often the source of lameness.