Weaving Worries

I have a 12-year-old Tennessee Walker who weaves. I recently noticed lameness in the right front leg. How does weaving affect the lameness, and what treatments can I use to stop or decrease the lameness? Would steroid injections help?
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Q:I have a 12-year-old Tennessee Walker who weaves. I recently noticed lameness in the right front leg. I had radiographs and testing done to rule out the really bad causes, such as laminitis, navicular, and founder. The radiographs were normal except for slight arthritic changes. I did not, however, have the veterinarian look at the shoulder. The horse does not always appear lame. How does weaving affect the lameness, and what treatments can I do to stop or decrease the lameness? He is an excellent trail horse and I’d like to improve his quality of life. Would steroid injections help?  

—Donna Faulkner, Tenn.


A:From my experience and from the horse’s history you have provided, I feel it is most likely not in the shoulder. Most front limb lameness is isolated to the foot by the use of nerve blocks starting with the PD (palmar digital) nerve. This block desensitizes the heel and approximately a third of the way around the lateral (outer) and medial (inner) walls of the hoof. We use this block to rule in or out navicular or caudal heel syndrome.

If this did not make your horse sound the next block to be done is the abaxial nerve block. This is done on the lateral and medial sides of the sesamoids and desensitizes the entire hoof from approximately below the fetlock joint down. The abaxial nerve block does not alleviate true bone pain and, as you have stated, there were some arthritic changes on the X rays. If this does not make your horse sound the next block to be done is a coffin joint block

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Written by:

Heather Heiderich, DVM, is an associate veterinarian for Florida Equine Veterinary Services Inc., based in Clermont, Fla., where she has special interests in acupuncture, reproduction, and sports medicine. She is an avid hunter/jumper rider and breeds Belgian Warmbloods.

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