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Problems with old splint
My 16 year old gelding has an old splint. It has been there for a very long time. I have had him 4 years and have never had a problem with it. Until this past December. He randomly started limping when I got on to ride at a lesson. My trainer felt his leg and said it feels weird but she was not sure what it was. So I took him home and put him on stall rest. I noticed his leg looked weird. It did feel "off" almost like more little "splint" bumps. I iced it and had him on stall rest for 3 weeks with hand walking of course. Well he was not limping anymore and that leg didn't seem to hurt him when squeezed. That was in January. So for the past few months I have been taking lessons, trail riding a lot, jumping him, even did an intro endurance ride (like 8 miles) and he vetted out good and never missed a beat. Well, about a week and a half ago, I hopped on him for a lesson. And...he started limping again. Now I really am worried. His splint bone looks like more little "splint" bumps have popped up. The bumps are bony and hard. The area around the back of his leg is a little puffy and hot. For the past week and a half, I have been icing it and he has been on stall rest. I took him to the vet this past Friday. They trotted him out in hand and he was a tad bit off. So they did their flexion test and he really started limping. The vet was sure it was going to be that splint bone causing it so he did a lidocaine block on his whole foot to be sure. Well now the vet thinks it is his foot. But that does not make any sense because that splint bone has changed. I am taking him back to the vet today but it is a different vet because the other vet is too far away. We thought they would figure It out in one visit. So they wanted that lidocaine to wear off then block different parts of the foot. But look at these pictures of his leg! I don't know how well you guys can see it. The inside of his leg where is splint bone is, is almost bowed out but actually its a bunch of bumps.
So what the heck is this and will I be able to event on him
It is hard to say. He has a bump on the inside of his leg and if that is the splint it should not be the issue. It is low and it was cold.
OTOH if he was sound with a whole foot block, then it is in the foot. If the block was higher up it might be a suspensory which can be notoriously hard to heal.
Let us know the results of partial foot blocks and if they isolate the problem. How are his sesamoids looking? Could he have navicular?
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Splints generally don't cause consistent lameness and they don't just pop for no reason.
If the vet did a nerve block and said it's in his foot, then that's likely where it's at. It may be possible that he hit his leg/foot on something or got it hung through the fence somehow.
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You need a different Vet -- one that specializes in leg problems. They will have to x-ray the splint area to rule out a fractured splint bone. That would come from a kick or a hit to the splint bone just below the old splint. You are just guessing without good quality x-rays.
Pain can radiate from some injuries and coincidences make things totally seem like something else. You have to rule out the splint bone FIRST. Then, the suspensory ligament must be thoroughly examined with whatever diagnostic tools a good lameness Vet believes should be used.
And yes -- Navicular syndrome can be diagnosed in one foot or can be worse in one foot than the other. Just remember that Navicular syndrome is a lot like colic. It only refers to pain in a certain area. The cause of that pain can be one or more of many things. The cause of the foot pain must be determined, again, by a good lameness specialist.
By the time you mess around with call after call of a regular Vet, you will have spent as much money as if you went to a specialist right away and the chances are very good that you still will not know what you have. Meanwhile, your horse can have complications that are the result of having it go as long as it already has without letting it go any longer.
Thank you Cherie. This is the other reason I am going to this other vet. He's been referred to me and is very good with these things. And he's closer to me. I am about to get him ready to go. I have to work him a little to make him sore and I feel bad but if it'll help find the cause then I'll do it. I plan to ask for xray and ultrasound. This is so depressing.
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I would not ASK for an x-ray or an Ultrasound. I would ask what he thought you needed to do. You will establish a better relationship with him asking questions than telling him what to do. I would hope he suggests x-rays and can take good ones of the splint bone area, first. We take problem horses to the Vet Clinic because they have better x-ray machines there and they can develop them to see if they need another view. Most mobile units are not as good and require another Vet call after they have been looked at.
I would not opt for an Ultrasound or an MRI of anything without knowing that you are spending the extra diagnostic money on what is actually causing the lameness. I have seen people spend $2500.00 on MRIs and Ultrasounds of the wrong area when the lameness was found by a different Vet and was in an entirely different place. Experience has taught me to get a specific area (usually a joint or a specific ligament or tendon) diagnosed as the problem area before using more expensive techniques. Then, I ask the Vet if the further use of diagnostic tools will actually help him decide exactly what he will do and what those different options will actually help with the recovery or healing.
If turnout or joint injections are the reasonable options for a particular horse instead of a $10,000.00 surgery, then I do not spend thousands of $$$ to get details that are really only useful to a surgeon. If the diagnostic tools recommended will help determine the course of action and the outcome, then, I go ahead with them. These are things you need to discuss with the Vet BEFORE he comes out. You need to ask him if he can take better x-rays at his clinic if they are necessary and needs to be able to look at them before he does more diagnostic work. You are definitely waaaay ahead with a clinic visit and not a farm call if x-rays are indicated.
Okay I just got done at the vet. We didn't take X-rays or ultrasound. First thing he did was look at his feet. He took his little tool and dug in his foot. I am afraid to dig that far up there honestly :/. Said he has thrush. Well I know that. He trots him and he's really not that off. He flexes his leg and trots again. Not really off. He takes the pincers and squeezes on the frog in both front feet and zahir responded to both :(. He said from the response, it is probably navicular. He said if the splint bone changes anymore or becomes painful for him when I squeeze it, bring him back in. But it doesn't seem to be causing him any pain. He said put him in 3 degree wedges first and bring him in 3 weeks after I get those on and we will see if there's improvement. So idk what to think. Idk if he will ever be able to be my eventing horse. Idk if he will ever be anything more than a light riding horse. Very depressing. I always thought navicular horses walked a little differently but obviously he does not. :/
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Even if it is Navicular, with proper care, he might still be able to make someone a really nice horse, though I probably wouldn't want to do eventing with him. We had a horse that continued to be sound even under a relatively heavy workload for almost 20 years in spite of having Navicular. He was probably the exception to the rule, but where there's one, there are more.
IME, horses with Navicular only begin to walk differently than normal when their degeneration gets to a certain point.
Don't give up hope on him yet.
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