A horse may be examined in hand or under saddle in order to best evaluate lameness. Certain joints may be flexed (flexions) and/or local anesthesia may be injected (nerve blocks) to further isolate the location of the lameness. Equipment such as a Lameness Locator® may be used to provide an objective measurement of lameness, allowing us to closely monitor degree of improvement, catch subtle lameness early, and much more. Additional diagnostics such as digital radiographs or digital ultrasound may be performed to make a final diagnosis. An appropriate treatment plan can then be made and may involve joint injections, shockwave, stem cells, IRAP, etc.
Pre-purchase exams are performed prior to buying or sometimes leasing a horse. A complete physical exam is done (including heart, lungs, eyes, skin, etc.) as well as watching the horse move. Flexions of joints are performed to help pinpoint areas of soreness. Additional tests including upper airway endoscopy, gastroscopy, Coggins test, drug testing, ultrasound, or radiographs can be performed for an additional charge. A pre-purchase examination is not intended to predict future performance but is aimed at finding medical issues that may limit performance.
Synovial joints are injected with a high-quality hyaluronic acid such as Hyalovet, Hylartin, or Hyvisc, an antibiotic (amikacin), and a long-acting steroid (triamcinolone). These injections help to reduce pain and inflammation, minimizing chronic damage to the joints to promote better performance.
IRAP (Interleukin-1 Receptor Antagonist Protein)
Blood is drawn from the horse’s vein and incubated with beads for 24 hours. This incubation removes the horse’s own inflammatory mediators in the blood leaving the “good” anti-inflammatory mediators. The finished IRAP is sterilely injected into the synovial joints or tendon sheaths to reduce inflammation associated with osteoarthritis (joint disease) or synovitis (inflammation of joint or tendon sheath fluid).
PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma)
Blood is drawn from the horse’s vein and spun down in a centrifuge to harvest the platelet rich plasma from the blood. This substance is then injected into an injured tendon or ligament. The platelets bring anti-inflammatory and healing mediators to the injured site.
Extracorporeal shockwave therapy produces acoustic (sound) waves that cause transient high and low peaks of pressure. It is thought that these changes in pressure increase energy flow to the area promoting healing. Shockwave is commonly used to treat tendon and ligament injuries, often in conjunction with other treatments such as stem cell therapy and PRP.