The vet can carry out a lameness investigation to determine why the horse is lame. This may be obvious at walk but often the horse will need to be trotted and sometimes the joint needs to be flexed. The horse may also be seen lunged or ridden. The cause of lameness may be clear after a careful check and palpation of the limbs, or further diagnostic radiographs or specialised scans may be required. Often the precise site of lameness is not obvious and nerve blocks may be used to localise the site of pain. This is often combined with diagnostic imaging to show the specific structures involved. The accurate identification of the site of lameness allows diagnosis, appropriate treatments to be considered and a prognosis to be given.
An initial lameness evaluation is normally performed at the horse’s yard as many diagnostic tests (e.g. nerve blocks, radiographs, scans) can be performed there. However for more involved lameness investigations and where advanced imaging techniques are required,a referral to an equine hospital may be recommended.
The following articles give an overview of the procedures involved in diagnosing lameness