Lameness- Diagnosis and Therapy
Our vets are trained and experienced in all aspects of lameness diagnosis, treatment and management. As well as having high quality equipment for on-yard diagnosis, we have facilities at our clinic for further assessment if that is preferable. In addition we are well situated to be able to refer cases to a variety of equine hospitals for cases that are particularly complex or require specialist equipment such as MRI or bone scans. We are also able to offer the most up-to-date therapeutic options for tendon and joint problems, including treatments such as stem cell therapy, platelet-enriched plasma, IRAP and shockwave.
Stems cells are used in the treatment of flexor tendon and suspensory ligament injuries. Stems cells originate from bone marrow and are capable of developing into any type of cell within the body. When injected directly into damaged tendons and ligaments they can greatly assist healing. The process involves bone marrow being harvested from the affected horse, usually from the sternum. It is then sent away to a lab where the stem cells are isolated and cultured. When enough stem cells have been produced, they are sent back to us for direct injection into the damaged area of tendon or ligament. The stem cells are then able to develop into tendon-cells and aid the healing process. When combined with an appropriate period of rest and a tailored rehabilitation program, stem cells can significantly help improve the chances of a return to performance.
IRAP isolates anti-inflammatory mediators located within the horse's white-blood cells and uses them to aid in reducing inflammation associated with degenerative joint disease and help promote cartilage regeneration. Blood is taken from the horse and incubated in special syringes that induce the production of anti-inflammatory mediators, especially Interleukin-1 Receptor Antagonist Protein (IRAP). The serum containing the anti-inflammatory mediators is harvested, filtered and prepared for injection into the joint. The usual protocol involves 3 injections at weekly intervals. This treatment utilises the horse’s own anti-inflammatory properties and is totally drug-free; as such it is able to be used on performance horses during competition.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is similar to IRAP by the fact that it is harvested from the horses own blood and then injected directly into damaged tendons and ligaments. PRP is high in growth factors that stimulate the horses' own stem cells to aid the healing process. PRP can also be injected into joints to reduce inflammation and promote cartilage repair. PRP has the advantage of being harvested and prepared 'patient-side' for immediate administration.
Shockwave is used in the treatment of a variety of conditions and is commonly used in the treatment of suspensory ligament injuries. The machine delivers a series of physical, rather than electrical, "shocks" aimed towards an area of inflammation or damaged tissue. The exact mode of action of this treatment is not fully understood but evidence points towards it increasing blood flow, reducing pain by suppressing nerve endings, and increasing bone, ligament and tendon rejuvenation. Treatments are typically repeated every two weeks for three or four treatments.
Having acquired a therapeutic laser in 2017 we have found it increasingly useful in a wide variety of orthopaedic cases, from muscle pain to a beneficial adjunct in tendon and ligament therapy. Non-invasive and easy to administer, it is very well tolerated even in fractious horses.