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FROM THE HOOFCARE & LAMENESS ARCHIVES
Laminitis Lingo 101
Professionals who work with lame horses day after day tend to develop a language of their own, and these terms creep into talks. Remember that these lameness experts are talking to each other as well as to their professional peers, and that they will be trying to be aware of the lay members of the audience, but....it's a little bit like being the announcer at a horse show where part of the audience is made up of horsemen, the other half visitors from another planet.
Laminitis, acute laminitis, chronic laminitis, founder, chronic founder,and sinker syndrome are some of the types of laminitis conditions that affect horses. Speakers will try to be specific about cases they discuss, but listeners should be alert to discern between conditions.
Resection is the removal of part of a structure. Resecting the hoofwall--usually an anterior wedge--has been found to be an effective way of relieving pressure and swelling within the hoof so that stabilization methods may be used. Likewise, a tendon may be resected, or have a portion surgically removed.
Stabilization is a goal of laminitis therapy. Often used on its own, it refers to stabilization of P3 to prevent rotation.
Rotation is the result of the loosening of the laminae in the hoof wall. The point of the unstable P3 moves in a counterclockwise direction within the hoof capsule, away from the hoof wall. The amount of rotation is monitored carefully by interpretive reading of radiographs, and is measured in degrees.
Frog pressure in general terms refers to any one of several theories how the "frog" of the hoof participates in vascular and weightbearing functions. In laminitis therapy, frog pressure has a more literal meaning, referring to the direct application of a support mechanism to the frog, seeking to stabilize P3 and prevent rotation. The most common form of frog pressure is provided by the heart bar shoe. Special pads, plates, and bars are used in other procedures to simulate the frog pressure action of the heart bar.
Proud flesh, necrotic tissue, granulation tissue, etc. refer to undesirable byproducts of healing or results of laminitis inflammation and its complications.
The heart bar shoe has a v-shaped frog support which, properly designed, constructed, and applied, will help take weight off the interior bony column of the foot as a means of deterring rotation. The frog is used to help support the horse and relieve pressure on the hoof wall. Care must be taken to position the point of the bar correctly and to nail the shoe on with the proper amount of pressure. Burney Chapman is the leading proponent of the heartbar shoe, and is credited with bringing the shoe, which was often used in the late 1800s, back into service for laminitis treatment. The adjustable heart bar shoe is a variation, advocated by some, which features a screw for lessening or increasing pressure.
Reverse shoe refers to a horseshoe nailed backwards onto a hoof, with the curve of the toe used as a support device for the heels. It is possible to weld a heart-bar into a reverse shoe; this is called an open-toe heart-bar shoe.
Rolled toe is a common practice, and may be done to a shoe, the actual toe of the bare hoof, or both. Rolling, or rounding, decreases the amount of hoof at the ground surface of the toe, making it easier for the horse to "breakover" in stride.
Lower the heels means to trim hoof from the heel portion, or to thin out the heel portion of a shoe, with the desired effect to change the pressure on the heel area structures or to change the relationship of weightbearing between the toe and heel areas of the hoof. Raising the heels can only be done by thickening the posterior part of the shoe or lowering the toe. Heels can also be raised and lowered by the use of wedge pads in normal or reverse positions. Stacks of wedge pads are used for radical heel elevation.
Abscesses are primary complications of laminitis and are sites of infection within the hoof. They are often difficult to control and treat. Because of the pressure they create, they usually eventually "break through", often at the coronary band or heels.
Osteomyelitis, osteosis, osteochondrosis, and osteitis are conditions of the bone, usually unrelated to laminitis but causing severe degenerative damage to the bones of a horse's leg or foot. The prefix osteo- means bone, and each condition is a separate lameness malady traced to a malady of the bone. In lay terms, osteomyelitis and osteitis could be considered infections and inflammations of the bone, respectively, that are often secondary to fractures or founder, and that lead to degeneration of the bone; osteosis refers to a fait accompli of degenerative bone disease, or to the necrotic portion of the bone; osteochondrosis is usually a bone cyst or lesion that is difficult to diagnose and treat, but which is a growing concern among veterinarians who are finding it in great numbers.
Hoof casts are used in laminitis treatment to attempt to stabilize the bone.
The "Glues" refer to the new glue-on horseshoes available on the market. Glu-Strider from Switzerland and Dallmer from West Germany are two are adaptable for use in laminitis treatment.
Radiographs are an important part of laminitis therapy. Veterinarians usually have a set of radiographs, taken at different points in the therapy, for monitoring rotation and stabilization progress. Detailed radiographs are crucial to laminitis diagnosis and treatment, and special procedures can be used to clarify the position of the P3 in relation to the hoof wall.
Insurance adjusters are independent businesspeople who job is to represent underwriters and to monitor treatments on valuable horses and investigate claims. They may also hire consultant veterinarians and farriers to make decisions on whether or not a horse should be destroyed.
"Dremel" refers to a small electric drill with cutting blades used in hoof resections to cut through the hoof wall. Dremel is one manufacturer of this type of tool.
Methionine and biotin are two widely available feed supplements to stimulate hoof growth following laminitis treatment.
This article originally appeared in Hoofcare & Lameness: The Journal of Equine Foot Science (Issue #25) and is available for your personal use only. Re-publication is prohibited without the express written permission of Hoofcare & Lameness.
Detailed information on this and many other hoofcare topics can be found in Hoofcare & Lameness publisher Fran Jurga's award-winning guide to hoofcare, "Understanding the Equine Foot".
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