Vets Test New Way to Speed Up Nerve Block Onset in Horses

An analgesic buffered with sodium bicarbonate alleviated lameness quicker and for a longer duration than an unbuffered one, researchers found.

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An analgesic buffered with alleviated lameness quicker and for a longer duration than an unbuffered one, researchers found. | Photo: Erica Larson/The Horse

Many veterinarians keep tight clinical schedules, and waiting for nerve blocks (localized analgesia) to take effect during lameness exams can eat up valuable time. But a research team focused on diagnostic analgesia has good news: They recently found a way to help speed up analgesia onset to keep lameness exams moving.

Lindsey Boone, DVM, PhD. Dipl. ACVS, an assistant clinical professor of equine surgery and sports medicine at Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, in Alabama, presented her team’s findings at the 2018 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 1-5 in San Francisco, California.

Nerve blocks help veterinarians sleuth out areas of pain in the foot and/or leg by numbing potentially painful structures in a methodical way, starting low and moving up the limb. If a lameness lessens after a block, that gives the veterinarian clues as to which parts of the foot or leg are likely involved

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Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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