Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Another vet visit? Yeah, I'm serious.

You think you're sick of hearing about Kaswyn's lameness troubles? Believe me, you're not as sick of that as I am about having the vet visits (or the bills, ugh). But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

On Sunday after the show I went to the barn to ride Albert and Kaswyn. Unfortunately I had a bad ride on Kaswyn. He took another one of those steps where it feels like he stepped in a hole with one of his back legs, and he was off after that. I started thinking that it might be a suspensory ligament injury, and that would be a very bad thing. The suspensory ligament runs down that back of each leg, below the knee or hock, then branches into two halves and wraps around the fetlock(aka ankle)to support the horse's leg. It's the ligament which allows horses to stand and be completely relaxed, so it bears a lot of weight especially during dressage training. It also takes a long time to heal, requires stall rest and hand walking (and we all know how much I hate hand walking) and even if it heals the ligament might not ever be the same. Which could mean retirement for Kaswyn.

So I made an appointment for Kaswyn to go see Dr. G to have his suspensories ultrasounded and rule out injury there. Luckily for me my trainer was going over there today with another horse, so she was able to go pick up Kaswyn and bring him along. I had to work but they were able to work on the other horse first while I finished up in the lab and flew over to the clinic.

When I got there Dr G said my horse was not lame. Gee, I've heard that before. Then he said that he's seen my horse lame on video five times but Kaswyn is rarely lame during an exam with no rider. This points to back pain, and to prove his point he went over to Kaswyn and started palpating his back.

I was surprised when I saw the reaction he was getting, especially on the right side. If Dr. G pushed just at the top of his croup on the right side Kaswyn dropped his back and I could see the muscles spasm up his back towards his head. He had a little reaction on the left side, but not nearly as much. My trainer remarked that she thought Kaswyn looked a little hollowed out in his lower back and just below the top of the croup when he jogged.

Dr. G started telling me about this therapy that one of the vets in the practice does called mesotherapy. This website does a great job of explaining it - Burlington Equine Vet Services. Basically it's injecting anti-inflammatories, steroids, and pain medication in the skin - not muscle - to help stop the chronic cycle of pain and injury thus letting the body heal itself. He said that Dr. C had specific training in this therapy, and that I should call him out to do the therapy. But for now Dr. G said that he would inject the painful areas of the back in the muscle with steriods and anti-inflammatories to help his pain.

Just as we were discussing the treatment, Dr. C walked in. Dr. G asked him to evaluate Kaswyn, and he found that Kaswyn was also sore in his neck, more on the left than the right. He also felt that Kaswyn was sore in the back. After talking with him he seemed to think that Kaswyn fit the profile of a horse with back pain that might be helped my mesotherapy. He has a lameness that is difficult to pinpoint and treat, he is at an advanced stage of training, and he is eighteen years old. He also didn't have the same desire to work that he used to. He said that it's possible that Kaswyn has some mild arthritis in his back and neck but that it's difficult to x-ray those areas so we'll never know for sure. However mesotherapy would help with the pain regardless if it's arthritis or specific injury related. It wouldn't change or heal the arthritis, it would just make it hurt less.

They asked me what I wanted to do, and I said I wanted to go ahead with the mesotherapy. So they gave Kaswyn a bit of a sedative, scrubbed up his back and neck and started injecting him. It pretty much looked like the photo on that link that I posted, except he injected Kaswyn closer together to make a larger raised area instead of rows. I estimate that he injected about 100 sites in each side of his neck and probably 150 in each side of his back. Kaswyn was really good about it even though I don't think he was all that sleepy towards the end and was flinching with each stick.

Then we talked about after care. Dr. C said to give him tomorrow off and then ride on Thursday. I should see a noticeable difference, and if I do he wants to come to the barn and do a second treatment. He thinks that two might be enough depending on the amount of improvement that I see. He might have to do a third treatment, but we'd have to see how Kaswyn responds first.

Of course then I asked about Nationals. I said that I hadn't entered yet, and that I'd be fine with not going although I'd be disappointed. He asked when I had to enter by and I told him August 12. He said we should know by then where we stood with this treatment, but if Kaswyn responds favorably then there is not reason why he wouldn't be okay to go.

So we'll see how he feels on Thursday. I'm cautiously optimistic since this diagnosis and therapy seem to fit nicely into the puzzle titled "Kaswyn's Lameness Issues". I have to say that I feel like a jerk of a horse owner not to have caught the fact that my horse's back was sore. I've checked his back for soreness, just not in the right place, and I don't think I pushed hard enough to get a reaction. Oh well, at least I'm learning something.

I should have called this blog treatyourlamehorse.blogspot.com.


Jenflex said...

Does Kaswyn get chiropractic treatment ever? My trainer has one come out every few weeks and it makes a HUGE difference. And, at only $65 a visit might be worth a try.

Stephanie said...

wow... thanks for sharing. I am super interested in hearing how it all works out!
These horses of ours (all of them to be more specific...) are such complicated and fragile creatures and give us sooo much. Don't beat yourself up about not catching the sore back thing, it could have just started so slowly and built up that you did not even notice. I am glad to hear that his suspensory is fine! At least that is good news.

cindy said...

i feel it is great you are very tenacios reguarding you r horses lamenesss issues- from looking at your videos , one of the thoughts was back or hip pain?

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Just a couple points from the wife of an equine vet who is a member of ISELP (International Sociey for Equine Locomotor Pathology). He frequently x-rays and ultrasounds backs and necks to diagnose arthritis and soft-tissue injuries; it CAN be done by those who have been trained in the proper techniques. He commonly injects necks for arthritis with marked improvement shown, and has used shock wave therapy successfully to treat both sore backs and injured suspensories and other soft tissue. Stall rest and hand-walking for the latter can work, but does leave the injured area susceptible to re-injury. Shock wave actually helps reorganize the damaged fibers into a more normal pattern, which makes them heal stronger. Anyway, food for thought for the future; hope your horse's back issues resolve!

Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr