Lameness is a condition almost every horse owner has unfortunately dealt with and can involve bones, muscles, joint, or tendons.
Tendon injuries typically present as heat and swelling over the tendon, however it may not always be obvious. Tendon injuries require a long rehabilitation phase before they are strong enough to withstand ridden work, and are prone to re-injury if not treated correctly.
To get your horse sound and back to work sooner it is essential any changes in the tendon are diagnosed and managed under veterinary advice.
The only way to diagnose tendon injuries is by ultrasound. Ultrasound machines work by releasing very high frequency sound waves, which create an image as they bounce back to the machine off structures. This allows ultrasound to pick up soft tissue structures such as tendons which radiographs are unable to do, and also detects subtle changes.
Any irregularity in the tendon will cause a differing amount of waves to be reflected back and change the image seen. This allows us to not only confirm a lesion is there, but also determine the severity of the injury to guide prognosis and rehabilitation plans.
A typical rehabilitation plan includes initial stable rest, followed by very gradual increases in exercise and slowly building up to ridden work. It can take 6-12 months before your horse is back to normal work. Throughout the rehabilitation phase regular ultrasound examinations are recommended. This allows us to monitor healing, and we are able to change the treatment plan as needed. An ultrasound is most crucial before any increases in exercise, and especially before ridden work to ensure the tendon does not re-injure.
Ultrasound is a crucial diagnostic method when dealing with lame horses, and our ultrasound machine is able to pick up even subtle changes within the tendon. The main benefit of our machine is that it is wireless and does not require power, meaning we can carry out a thorough ultrasound examination almost anywhere.