Symptoms: Stiffness, standing back on their heels, reluctance to move, increased heat/radial pulse, sensitive to hoof testers, dropped soles; rings around hoof wall(s) are a few of the more common signs of laminitis.
Laminitis can affect one foot, front feet, hind feet, most commonly laminitis affects the weakest link usually the front feet, however if a horse has had an injury laminitis is more likely to affect that injury site whether front or hind feet (the weakest link). The characteristic stance (see picture right) is as if the horse is being blown backwards, forelegs are stretched forward putting most of their weight on their heels and the hind legs are tucked under the body. Horses with laminitis are reluctant to move, and unwilling to lift a hoof and at times collapse with pain when forced to lift a foot. In these more advanced cases horses will have an increase in their breathing and pulse rate, shift weight from one foot to the other, trying to lie down, they may be trembling and anxious.
Laminitis has many different levels and symptoms: acute or chronic, severe or mild, each case presents different symptoms and each needs to be treated with a short and long-term goal. A method that has worked well is do no harm by that I mean do a little as needed to make the horse more comfortable. This is very important when dealing with acute laminitis sometimes you might not get a second chance. The first item on the agenda in laminitis cases is reduce inflammation, next restore blood supply both into the hoof and out of the hoof, and finally support and add mechanical advantage for proper circulation. Once healthy circulation returns to a laminitic hoof the road to recovery is much easier.
The pathology of laminitis varies depending on what kind of laminitis, basically there are three kinds of laminitis: proximal rotation, distal rotation and sinkers all three may also have an element of medial or lateral rotation. The element of medial and lateral rotation adds the need and benefits in getting anterior posterior radiographs of any hoof you are suspicious of laminitis
These different kinds of mechanical failures (laminitis) affect both chronic and acute cases. Only radiographs can accurately determine the extent a hoof has laminitis. When there has been rotation of the pedal bone a slight depression in front of the coronary band may be present in some cases. As the coffin bone (pedal bone) rotates it impedes the blood supply to the coronary band. The coronary band is where horn (hoof wall) is produced the reduced blood supply will cause laminitic rings. These rings are wider in the heel area in some cases displaying high heels and long toe, creating a dish in the toe area (a classic sign of chronic laminitis). In chronic laminitis white line disease, abscesses, dropped soles, and seedy toe are quite common.
The pictures on the right are examples of different procedures for laminitis, they do not represent a case history of this horse. Pictures Courtesy of Dr. Mike Steward
Everyone told her to put the horse
down there was no hope! Bruce saw he was up against a tough case - in Bruce's dry straight
demeanor he said "lets try Equicast". Well 3 months later Vixen has made a
remarkable recovery. What is so striking is the amount of growth in 3
months. The method that Bruce used is also unusual - Bruce opted to
leave 3 casts per foot on for 3 months straight. What is incredible is
the amount and the symmetry of growth.