Sidebone

I have a 26-year-old warmblood who is 17 hands. He is looking good and feeling great except his sidebone on his right front is starting to bother him. He limps quite a bit when it is cold but still jumps up and down playing. He is retired and is on Trifecta plus Triple Crown Lite. Is there anything I can give him that would make him more comfortable during these cold times? Would like a second opinion that is why I am asking this question. NP, Washington

Dear NP,

Well, I can’t provide you with a second opinion, only a veterinarian that physically examines your horse can do that, but I can tell you what I know about sidebone. Then you can have an informed conversation with your veterinarian and decide how best to proceed with your horse.

As you probably know, sidebone is when the cartilages on either side of the coffin bone in the hoof harden, or calcify. In most cases, sidebone does not usually cause pain to the horse, except when the tissue is actively turning to bone. Even then, it usually doesn’t cause outright lameness unless it has been fractured or infected. So I have to wonder if the limping you see in your gelding is really due to his sidebone?

My suggestion is to ask your vet to perform a thorough lameness examination on him, including taking X-rays of his feet again. Your vet may also need to “block” his lameness, or inject local anesthetic into the limb to try and localize the source of pain. Other techniques that may help isolate the problem include using hoof testers, flexion tests and standing the horse with his hooves on wedges (then trotting him off.)

Thanks to the advanced imaging of nuclear scintigraphy, CT and MRI, we now know there can be many sources of pain in the foot, from the navicular bone to the coffin joint and from the deep digital flexor tendon to collateral ligaments. I don’t mean to alarm you, but it’s possible your horse has an injury or degenerative process in one of these structures and the sooner you find that out, the sooner you can provide appropriate treatment and management. While there are several medications and supplements that may provide comfort to your horse, until the cause of his pain is identified these will just temporarily mask the problem.

Lydia F. Gray, DVM, MA SmartPak Staff Veterinarian and Medical Director Dr. Lydia Gray has earned a Bachelor of Science in agriculture, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), and a Master of Arts focusing on interpersonal and organizational communication. After “retiring” from private practice, she put her experience and education to work as the American Association of Equine Practitioner’s first-ever Director of Owner Education. Dr. Gray continues to provide health and nutrition information to horse owners through her position at SmartPak, through publication in more than a dozen general and trade publications, and through presentations around the country. She is the very proud owner of a Trakehner named Newman that she actively competes with in dressage and combined driving. In addition to memberships in the USDF and USEF, Dr. Gray is also a member of the Illinois Dressage and Combined Training Association (IDCTA). She is a USDF “L” Program Graduate and is currently working on her Bronze Medal. Find Dr. Gray on Google+

Posted in Lameness

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One comment on “Sidebone
  1. lavina says:

    Hi, i have big heavy horses & one with the same problem as your horse, Cytek shoeing realy is the way to go, do the research & keep an open mind, i have never looked back.hope it works for your horse…

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