Scott Morrison, says that one of the frustrating things about working with laminitis cases is that a procedure or treatment that works on one case often does not work on another case that seems very similar.

The veterinarian who heads the Podiatry Department at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky., was just one of many presenters at the 2011 International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot who emphasized that laminitis treatment needs to be based on the needs of an individual horse. Anyone looking for a silver-bullet or one-size-fits-all type of answer is bound for disappointment.

Morrison said that a big part of his approach is coming up with a support system that will improve circulation and stimulate hoof growth for each particular horse. He noted there are a number of systems and devices available that can be effective. The trick is identifying the one that will work best for a particular case.

Gathering as much information about the condition of the foot is critical. Morrison uses radiographs and venograms, but also condusts a careful physical exam of the foot, palpating the coronary band, checking pulses and looking for any clues that may be present, such as hair standing up just above the coronary band or tell-tale patterns in growth rings on the hoof wall.

"In my experience, the area of the foot that is under the most load will fail or collapse first," he says. That means because a foot's conformation can tell you something about how a hoof capsule is loaded, it may also tell you what area is in most imminent danger of failing.

Morrison said hoof support systems can be designed to do many things, including:

  • Alter the angle of the hoof.
  • Recruit the frog, sole and bars for greater weight bearing.
  • Unload or reduce weight bearing in a particular region of the hoof.
  • Ease resistance to movement.
  • Aid in absorbing shock.
  • Increase rigidity of the hoof capsule.

Morrison said it's important to understand that any of these alteration. Carefully monitoring any system, and making required alterations are an important part of the treatment.

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