Abscess a month ago and still lame?
I need some advice/ reassurance here....I've never had a horse get an abscess and I need to know if I should keep being patient or how long can these things take to heal??
The horse in question is a 5yo Welsh sec B mare. Zero history of any problems, barefoot, never sore.
I noticed my pony was tender while I rode her on rocky ground about a month ago. On advice from other boarders, I bought a bunch of different meds and began treating for an abscess in the front right.
The pony a couple of days later was non-weightbearing on that leg. No problems anywhere up the leg, definitely painful in the bottom of the foot.
I called my farrier (I have a great farrier, costs a bit more but so worth it) he said to give it a couple of more days.
I waited two more days and asked him to come right away. She was bearing only a tiny bit of weight on the leg; I think because I had started her on bute.
He came out and with some difficulty found an abscess. He was nearly ready to give up searching. I think it was deep, but I have no experience with abscesses. It didn't seem very big to me. He followed a teeny tiny fissure in the toe untill he found a drop of greyish ooze. He then got a power drill (!)and found a small amount of thick pus, followed by blood. It bled quite a bit, He said that was great, that it cleans out the abscess. I packed it and wrapped it.
I quit wrapping and packing it after a week or so. She didn't get better. Still lame and sore. And depressed.
About 12 days ago I had the vet look at her. He picked at the "hole" a bit, which she tolerated but it was painful. He got a tiny drop of blood, then wrapped up the foot again with duct tape. He just said that she had to heal, and it would take a while and to be patient. He charged a pretty penny too, and my pony only got more sore.
Now it has been a month since she first showed symptoms. She can walk, but at the trot (when I turn her out, or lead her) she is head-bobbing lame. She is frustrated that she can't play and isn't herself, she always has to be careful of her foot and is more quiet than normal. We're missing show season and losing muscle. Everyone tells me that abscesses feel better a couple of days after they are burst. Why is this taking so long? Is the soreness from the hole itself, or is the laminae damaged? Does the hoof just have to grow out? Would hoof boots help? Does anyone know anything that would help?
An absess getting worse after being drained. Sorry, doesn't sound right to me. I would call another vet and another farrier, back to back, something is wrong if your pony is getting worse.
Figured out how to post pics. The purpleish color is just Durasole. The hole might still have some of that tar-like packing in it, not sure.
Thank you waresbear. =(
A month is too long, particularly considering the farrier believes he has already relieved the suspect abscess.
Using a power drill to relieve an abscess is, in my view, an unnecessary risk with potential for serious consequences.
Did the vet or farrier use a pair of hoof testers to identify the problem? Does the horse present a bounding digital pulse or exhibit strong indications of heat in the hoof?
Did the vet prescribe an antibiotic or suggest a set of xrays?
The trim work looks well balanced and generally clean but I suspect the knife work was aggressive. If you press on the sole at each side of the toe, does the sole seem to yield easily to that thumb pressure? I'm guessing it does. This horse doesn't appear to have a lot of sole depth.
Lacking xrays, I'd do some aggressive testing with hoof testers to localize the real problem. I'd then tape some thick EVA foam pads on the horse to determine what, if any, comfort that provided. If the horse walked off better, I'd recommend a set of shoes with a hospital plate for any necessary treatment of the wound/abscess.
If the "pad" test didn't improve the situation, I'd want to consult with the vet at the horse and strongly recommend a set of radiographs.
Septic Pedal osteitis can result from chronic infection. Better to be sure. Xrays could rule out a more serious problem, such as a P3 fracture. Hitting blood means the farrier drilled into the solar corium. This can result in painful prolapsed tissue and secondary infection.
Unfortunately, cases like this can often result in diagnostics being more expensive than treatment.
Thank you Horseman56
The farrier used testers, he had a tough time localizing the exact point. He finally found the tiny fissure by using the knife.
She had a slightly stronger pulse in that foot when the vet checked it. She never seemed hot in the hoof, I don't believe. The vet quickly used the testers, she clearly flinched on either side of the "hole." His exam was extremely brief and cursory. I wondered about x-rays, and antibiotics but he didn't offer any. I even mentioned fracture or infection which he brushed off, and said "I see these things all the time". He came highly recommended.
Don't know if the sole yields, I will try tomorrow.
I've always done a tiny bit of my own rasping around the edges and clean off any flaking sole approx weekly, for maintenance.
If the farrier did drill too far, then does it stand to reason that healing would take a longer time, even (speculating) without infection present? Could I expect recovery of the injured solar coruim be complete? When the vet picked around and got a drop of blood, there wasn't any infection visualized.... I think you are right that damage was done by the drilling. She just was so sore after that day, and there was an alarming amount of blood.... really nothing ever drained out of that hole after that day, that I could tell, though I was diligent about packing, disinfecting and wrapping.
I guess I'll have to call the farrier back, do I assume that if shoes make her feel better , that the problem will resolve/heal itself?
Either way I think another vet call and x-rays are probably unavoidable...
Thanks again for taking the time to type, Horseman, I truly appreciate it
Good luck with her.
Yikes. I would have soaked daily and waited for the abscess to route it's way to the top. Have you been soaking? Did you put ichthomal on it to draw it out? The issue you are running into now could be that it is healing over and locking the yucky stuff in or that it's on that toe and will be painful for quite some time. In my experience, when it's been drained from the bottom of the hoof like that, once the drainage is complete, the farrier comes in and packs it and then puts a pad on it and shoes it....
My vet began at the toe, but just a little and started following the white line. "An abcess will follow the path of least resistance". It was located in the heel and the pus poured out. He continued with pressure to create a good bleed. He told me an abcess is usually located in the heel area so your farrier may have gotten only the "tip of the iceburg".
Thanks for your well wishes and perspectives, everyone. I'll never again let anyone aggressively dig away at my horses sole. It would have been better to just soak and medicate and wait...But how do you know to definitely treat for an abscess in the first place if your farrier doesn't dig at the sole? How do you know it won't burst around the coronary band?
I did slather a pharmacy- worth of meds on the hoof in the past weeks; epsom salt gel, iodine (sugardine), Durasole (still using that, it can't hurt), tarry sole packing, Sore-no-more, Animalintex, icthammol, cotton, vet-wrap, duct tape and soaking boots,... obviously none of it did anything.
Horseman- I couldn't get the sole to yield to thumb pressure today. Maybe I couldn't press as hard as necessary?
I use a small loop knife designed for exploring an abscess track. If it's within reach, I'll know it usually before any significantly bleeding.
You might be surprised at just how far some of these abscess tracks can go. Once they enter the solar corium, it becomes the veterinarian's domain, not mine.
I can't offer much more in the way of advise without seeing the horse in person.
Sometimes radiographs can reveal more significant issues. If you can get a set, post them here and I'll take a look.
If the horse is still lame with no signs of improvement, it may be time to get the vet and farrier together for an onsite consult and more thorough evaluation.
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