with Britt Conklin, DVM
Britt Conklin is an equine veterinarian who is employed by Boehringer-Ingelheim (the largest equine animal health provider in the world) and owns a Sports Medicine and Podiatry practice near Amarillo, Texas. This is the second installment of his TR-- exclusive series on performance horse pain management.
In our previous issue, we discussed the concept of pain in your performance horse. Because the horse does not have the ability to self report, we—as horse owners—are at a disadvantage in accurately localizing those sources of pain. Pain may elicit behavioral, physiological, or gait abnormalities depending on its origin and its severity, and this is typically what we pick up on when we become aware that something is wrong.
Lameness issues can manifest into obvious gait abnormalities that may be easy to see, but finding out exactly where on the leg the problem is can be a challenge. Physiological abnormalities like sweating and rapid breathing with a severe colic are easy to identify, but determining what structures in the abdomen are affected can also be a challenge. Additionally, difficulty can arise when subtle pain is only manifested in a reduction of performance or in just a behavioral response. The horse with mild hock soreness may never present with an obvious gait abnormality, but may not fire out of the box, run or face normally, and may even develop a negative attitude related to that source of pain. Therefore, the ultimate goal with any painful or performance-limiting issue is to obtain an accurate diagnosis that pinpoints the location of the problem and its severity so that it can be treated appropriately. While this may seem elementary, a large portion of the equine retail market is built on preventing, enhancing, supporting, supplementing, modifying, or treating performance-limiting issues
Part 2: Diagnosing the problem area—the lame horse.