How to Manage Laminitis Pain on the Farm

Each horse responds to laminitis differently, so veterinarians must have a variety of pain-management options at their disposal.
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how to manage laminitis
Laminitis—which occurs when the tiny lamellae that attach the horse’s hoof to the coffin bone within fail, potentially causing the bone to sink or rotate within the hoof capsule—is an extremely painful process that requires aggressive treatment, and getting ahead of that pain can be very challenging. | Photo: iStock
Laminitis is one of the most frustrating conditions for veterinarians to manage. With this hoof disease, the tiny lamellae that attach the horse’s hoof to the coffin bone within fail, potentially causing the bone to sink or rotate within the hoof capsule. It’s an extremely painful process that requires aggressive treatment, and getting ahead of that pain can be very challenging.

At the 2018 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 1-5 in San Francisco, California, Lori Bidwell, DVM, Dipl. ACVAA, described how practitioners—particularly ambulatory vets—can manage laminitic horses’ pain levels during the acute and chronic phases of disease.

The immediate acute phase causes a physiologic pain that, if not dealt with, can become chronic, she explained. The chronic phase is neuropathic, meaning the nerves have become the pain source. Human patients have described this type of pain as burning, shooting, tingling, and electric

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Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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