Identifying the source of the lameness is essential to proper treatment. A lameness exam may include:
- Medical history of the horse.
- Visual evaluation of the horse at rest
- A thorough, hands-on examination: palpating the horse, checking muscles, joints, bones and tendons for evidence of pain, heat or swelling
- Hoof tester evaluation: applying pressure to the soles of the feet to check for sensitivity or pain
- Evaluation of the horse in motion: observing the horse from the front, back and sides, noting any deviations in gait. The horse may be worked on several types of surfaces, as well as on the lunge line or straight runway. The horse may also be ridden, since some lameness may only be apparent when under saddle.
- Joint flexion tests: the horse’s limbs are flexed and then the horse is trotted off in a straight line. The veterinarian watches for any signs of pain, weight shifting or irregular movements. This reveals problems that are not otherwise readily apparent.
- Diagnostic nerve and joint blocks- temporarily numbing an area to determine the source of pain
- Diagnostic imaging- radiography or ultrasound