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Although farriery overtly deals with the structures of the hoof capsule, a farrier may be involved with soft tissue injuries of the limb at any stage — from identification through rehabilitation. The term “soft tissue” technically includes any tissue that is not bone or horn: nerve, blood vessels, skin, subcutis, muscle, tendon, ligament, joint capsule, bursa, cartilage or fat.
While farriery can play a significant role in joint function, for now, synovial structures will be left for another time.
For the purposes of this article, the term “soft tissue injury” will be used in discussion of damage to the tendons and ligaments of the lower limb, with a focus on the deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT), superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT), suspensory ligament (SL), impar ligaments and collateral sesamoidean ligaments(CSL).
When considering any injured tissue and both the causes of the injury and the requirements for rehabilitation, it is useful to review the anatomy and mechanics behind the related structures.1
Tendons and ligaments are both fibrous connective tissues with similar functions in contributing to stability and movement of the musculoskeletal system. However, while ligaments join bone to bone or tendon to bone, tendons connect muscle to bone. Think of ligaments as stabilizing cables or guy lines, while tendons are the ropes connected to the pulleys and winches.
As a cable or rope can fray gradually due to repeated wear, or snap under sudden, overwhelming strain, soft tissue injuries can occur under low-grade, repeated stress, or…