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The first step in diagnosing lameness is a  thorough hands-on examination starting from the hooves on up. We evaluate the  horse’s lameness issues through palpation, flexion, pressure (hoof testers) and  visually to note any abnormalities.

Lameness Exams and Treatment

Whether you own an elite equine athlete or a partner for the trails, lameness problems continue to be a major concern for horse owners.

Millar & Associates veterinarians specialize in diagnosing equine lameness through combining clinical lameness evaluations with modern diagnostic tools, including radiography, ultrasonography, CT and MRI.

The first step in diagnosing lameness is a thorough hands-on examination starting from the hooves on up. We evaluate the horse’s lameness issues through palpation, flexion, pressure (hoof testers) and visually to note any abnormalities.

While the physical aspect of the exam is the starting point, observing the horse’s movement is critical in further isolating problematic areas. Evaluations can include trotting on straight lines, on soft or hard footing, on a longe line and even under saddle to view the horse carrying a rider’s added weight.

From there, the veterinarian may block certain areas using a local anesthesia (called nerve blocks) to determine the source of pain. One the area is pinpointed, the veterinarian then moves on to diagnose the exact problem.

Diagnostic Tools

The most common tools to determine the cause of lameness are digital radiography and ultrasonography. Through radiography, the veterinarian evaluates bone structures and can detect problems such as fractures, arthritis, chips and spurs. Ultrasonography is better employed for soft tissue injuries, such as muscles, ligaments and tendons, and uses sound waves to create a picture based on density.

Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are also used to pinpoint troublesome lameness issues in the horse, especially those difficult to detect through radiography and ultrasonography.

Patterson Veterinary MRI is a collaborative effort between Miller & Associates, New England Equine, Pine Bush Equine and Dunbarton Equine. The MRI is located at the New England Equine Practice, in Patterson, New York.

While some veterinary MRI units are only capable of imaging a horse’s hoof and pastern area, the Patterson Veterinary MRI acquires images up to the middle of a horse’s front or hind limb, the head and neck.

A precise diagnosis is critical for accurate and effective treatment, and the addition of MRI to our practice allows us to obtain the highest-quality images of all tissue types bone, soft tissue and cartilage.

Treatment

Veterinarians now have a myriad of therapies at their disposal to assist in treating equine lameness. From the standard rest, cold hosing (cryotherapy) and anti-inflammatory treatments to regenerative and complementary therapies, Miller & Associates veterinarians are able to provide you with customized treatment options to help your horse return to action.