An Alternative Approach to Palmar Digital Nerve Blocks

One practitioner shares a new technique that be more effective in pinpointing the cause of equine foot pain.

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Injecting anesthetic in a slightly different location than used with a traditional nerve block technique could be a more effective approach to pinpointing the cause of equine foot pain during lameness exams, noted a past-president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP).

Marvin Beeman, DVM, of the Littleton Equine Medical Center, in Colorado, renowned performance horse practitioner, described this approach at the organization’s 2013 convention, held Dec. 7-11 in Nashville, Tenn. He presented during a session consisting of past-presidents sharing practice tips from their many years of clinical experience.

Beeman reminded his audience that the palmar digital nerve (PDN) block is the most common regional anesthetic block used to diagnose lameness in the horse. Usually, veterinarians place this block near the ungual (collateral) cartilages on the sides of the pastern, but Beeman said he prefers to place the needle lower, on the midline between the bulbs of the heel. He does this while holding the horse’s front leg held between his knees or bracing the hind limb on his thigh and extending the limb as far back as possible

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Written by:

Nancy S. Loving, DVM, owns Loving Equine Clinic in Boulder, Colorado, and has a special interest in managing the care of sport horses. Her book, All Horse Systems Go, is a comprehensive veterinary care and conditioning resource in full color that covers all facets of horse care. She has also authored the books Go the Distance as a resource for endurance horse owners, Conformation and Performance, and First Aid for Horse and Rider in addition to many veterinary articles for both horse owner and professional audiences.

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