The key to successful equine sports wellness lies in our ability to proactively seek-out potential lameness cases with the intention of detecting problems during their “window of treatment opportunity”, aka the phase when treatment will still be curative or at least highly-effective. As you know, recognizing a problem after it has already reached the advanced and/or chronic phase makes successful management more difficult and in some cases impossible. We can all agree that the process certainly gets more expensive as time goes on.
Phases of Lameness Management
- The onset of Lameness : This represent the moment or period when the problem first occurs.
- Local Recognition of Lameness : this represents the moment when the primary caretaker (owner, trainer, barn manager, friend, farrier) discovers the existence of a problem.
- Veterinary Confirmation of Lameness : This represent the moment the veterinarian is first made aware of the problem.
- Clinical Examination : This may be performed in the field or in a hospital setting. Physical assessment, passive and active soundness evaluations, palpation, flexion testing and local anesthesia (blocks) are common techniques implemented during the hands-on exam.
- Diagnostic Imaging and Testing : Radiography, Ultrasonography, Thermography, nuclear scintigraphy and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are imaging modalities commonly employed in modern work-ups of the lame horse. In some cases, clinical pathology (blood work) and histopathology (biopsy) are also performed to identify specific forms of disease.
- Diagnostic : The results of clinical examination, diagnostic imaging and other tests often enable veterinarian to reach a diagnosis, which represents the specific cause of the horse’s lameness.
- Treatment : Once a diagnosis is made, an appropriate treatment plan can be formulated for the horse. Corrective shoeing, systemic arthrotherapy (joint supplementation), local arthrotherapy (joint injections), extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT), regenerative therapy (e.g. stem cells), chiropractics etc are strategies frequently employed in the treatment of equine lameness.