Lameness Diagnostics and Treatment


Equine lameness is defined as an abnormality in a horse's movement caused by pain or reduced range of motion. At Alpine Animal Hospital we take pride in our ability to not only diagnose lameness but in determining the cause and complexity of the injury/condition and the most appropriate treatment. Whether your horse competes in FEI level dressage or national working cow horse competitions, few problems can be more worrisome as a sudden lameness of unknown origin. Alpine Animal Hospital's Dr. Chuck Maker takes a particular interest in the diagnosis and treatment of equine lameness.

While a clinical exam and hoof tester application is often all that is needed to diagnose a routine hoof abscess, many of today’s athletes are affected by more serious injuries. Joint injury, joint disease secondary to trauma or injury, and osteoarthritis (OA) are major causes of attrition and loss of function in horses. Treatment of these conditions is an important component of maintaining the overall health and mobility in pleasure and athletic horses. At Alpine Animal Hospital we provide numerous treatments such as joint injections, Hyaluronic Acid and corticosteroids in conjunction with other therapies such as nutritional supplementation, weight management, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs depending on the problem being treated and the needs of the animal and owner.

Often times with today’s equine athlete, multiple soft tissue conditions affect multiple limbs simultaneously, confounding the diagnosis. Sequential regional anesthesia or nerve blocks and repeated gait analysis are often required to define and “un-couple” these conditions. The imagining methods used to define the cause of lameness range from digital X-ray and ultrasound to nuclear medicine, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Defining the exact location and nature of your horse’s lameness issues with advanced imaging techniques better enables veterinarians to design the best treatment plan and quickest route back to the show ring.

In addition to traditional anesthetics, antibiotics, nutrition and steroids - emerging therapies such as interleukin-1 receptor agonist protein (IRAP) therapy, stem cells and Platelet rich Plasma are being used increasingly for horses with joint diseases such as synovitis and osteoarthritis.

Focused shock wave therapy - Micro bursts of high energy sound waves are used to increase healing and remodeling of bone and ligamentous structures by increasing angiogenesis ( blood supply) and certain cellular messengers which promote healing. This treatment allows many horses to return to work faster and stronger when used alone and in conjunction with other lameness treatments.

Digital X-rays - Digital X-rays can see bone pathology in great detail that normal radiographic views sometimes fail to illustrate. We are able to combine both soft tissue and bone exposures on the same image, giving us more information on the area being studied. Digital ultrasound is often combined in these cases.

Digital Ultrasound - Digital Ultrasound is used for reproductive mare management and acute abdomen and musculoskeletal injury cases.

Our new facility encompasses a 90 foot brushed concrete lameness surface giving us an excellent platform to evaluate and define lameness indoors when the Colorado weather doesn’t cooperate. With four indoor stalls to drop off your horses, we can evaluate and perform regional anesthetic blocks on several horses simultaneously and allow appropriate time intervals before their assessment. Overnight stays are easily accomplished when necessary in complicated multiple leg lameness. We also have a 50 foot round pen to enable evaluation at all gaits and under saddle when needed.

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After hour emergency services are available


8:00 am-5:00 pm


8:00 am-5:00 pm


8:00 am-5:00 pm


8:00 am-5:00 pm


8:00 am-5:00 pm


We are closed but available for emergencies


We are closed but available for emergencies