Originally Posted by loosie
Yes, hoof imbalance can definitely cause torque & therefore damage to joints. Without a lot more info I wouldn't assume it likely for the horse to 'need' shoes(altho that's not to say I'd assume bare is best either) and as metal rims have been shown to increase concussion & low frequency vibrations a huge amount, I'd think they would be more likely to make matters worse. *Lack of protection on the other hand, can also exacerbate joint strain due to incorrect movement, particularly toe first landings because of heel sensitivity.
I am going out to look at the horse after work today. I might snap some pics of the hoof and see what you guys think. But the guy I was talking to about it said that hoof where the swelling was is overgrown and has his hoof toed inward. First thing pops in my mind is that could very well be the issue with the swelling.