Earlier this week Maverick, the gelding rescued from Riverside Animal Services after being abandoned, started to limp a little and walk on the toe of his left hind leg. Thinking that he probably got kicked or kicked a pipe panel and it was sore, I kept a close eye on it checking for swelling, heat, lack of pulse, flexibility and did light stretching to give controlled movement and anti-inflammatories (Previcox which is easier on their stomachs than bute).
It just wasn't getting better and he started to carry it knuckled over so I called the vet. On Thursday the vet came out and didn't see anything obvious so we decided to take x-rays. We got those on Friday and really didn't find anything conclusive enough to cause him to not want to put weight on his toe and drag it like this. A small amount of periosteal reaction on the dorsal aspect of the P2 - little extra bone growth on the front/top side of the short pastern or 2nd phalanx.
The picture below shows a good view of the lower leg area and the P2 is the 2nd phalanx.
In discussion with the vet here and also with Dr. Grove at West Coast Equine Medicine, whom I used to work for and is helping by donating his consultations, we decided to splint the injury while it is healing so the tendons and ligaments don't want to stay in the knuckled over position. If this isn't working over the weekend, we will start casting it on Tuesday.
Hummmm....make a splint, easy if you have everything on hand, which we had most because I like to keep a variety of medical needs here, just not the actual splint stays. Little did we know when we bought a table saw last week to cut and trim the lumber we are using to fix the barn that we would be using it for medical care for one of the horses. We had a 2'' diameter pvc pipe so Lary cut is to make two side splint pieces.We filed down the edges so they wouldn't dig into his leg under pressure and then covered them with duct tape to further soften the edges. Plastic sweat scrapers may have worked, but we didn't have any on hand. The picture below shows how we wrapped the split stays with tape.
Padding the leg first to prevent any pinching, we were able to get the foot slightly extended and apply the splint. We then covered it with wraps so if he did kick out with it, he wouldn't hurt himself further. We did not get his hoof extended as flat as we would have liked it, but a little at a time is important to not cause him additional pain. The picture below was from Friday night.
Saturday morning we went out to remove the splint so I could do some physical therapy once again stretching the hoof and lower leg so he could lay it flat in a normal position. It is SO tight this takes a lot of stretching so he relaxes it and we get movement. I also did some muscle massage through the hips, pelvis and leg muscles on both sides to give some relief from the muscle compensation to offset his weight.
Back at the table saw again, this time Lary took 4'' ABS plastic sewer pipe and made splint stays that would work on the front and back giving more support from the bending and to distribute his weight so he can try to start standing on his toe and eventually flat footed. Again lots of padding is applied first to avoid any pinching then the plastic is taped really well so the tape won't break under movement.Maverick is a good patient. The vet was surprised how well he did taking the x-rays and though the physical therapy and splinting causes discomfort, he doesn't do anything more than try to pull his leg away. We can't sedate him to do this because his front legs are so arthritic and his right hind is already bearing too much weight, sedation could make it more difficult for him to stand. It's not fancy, but it is functional.
As you can see with the extra support of the splint, he is actually bearing some weight on his toe. We will check/change the splint a couple times a day to check for pinching, swelling, lack of circulation and to allow me to provide some more physical therapy. We are hoping this is just a tendon or ligament issue and with constant care and stall rest over the next many days, we can get him back to normal. Without that, his other legs simply won't be able to sustain his weight in the condition they are in. This poor old boy was definitely used hard before he was tossed away. We love this guy and will do everything we can help him.
We finally got his weight perfect, the dermatitis issues resolved and now this. His mood is good, his appetite great and he is a friendly as ever. This last photo shows just what he thinks about this whole thing....
|Maverick says, "you can have that thing."|
|5-28-13 starting to bear weight on it.|
We have removed the splinting and he is starting to bear some weight on it and walking around. He still limps and yesterday the vet said he felt the diagnosis was fibromyopathy - where he is have muscle weakness from possible prior injury as a roping horse or whatever he was used for. He has recommended surgery down in Phoenix that will cost approx. $2000. I will need to contact the vets in Phoenix to determine what the recovery process would be and how the arthritic legs would sustain the weight during recovery and what the success rate is for a horse of his age. Not looking forward to that call. It is an option I will be getting a lot of information about first. In the meantime. I will start taking him out for short walks and see how he does.
To me much of this unknown really does lead to guess work by many with no history on him and with inconclusive xrays, it is a process of elimination of what the issue truly is and how we move forward to help him heal, if he can.
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