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Clinical findings, diagnosis, prevalence and predisposing factors for lameness localised to the middle carpal joint in young Standardbred racehorses

Steel, C.M., Hopper, B.J., Richardson, J.L., Alexander, G.R. and Robertson, I.D.ORCID: 0000-0002-4255-4752 (2006) Clinical findings, diagnosis, prevalence and predisposing factors for lameness localised to the middle carpal joint in young Standardbred racehorses. Equine Veterinary Journal, 38 (2). pp. 152-157.

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Reasons for performing study: Lameness related to the middle carpal joint (MCJ) occurs in up to 30% of young Standardbred horses in race training and the incidence increase with radiographic severity of third carpal bone (C3) sclerosis on DPr-DDIO (skyline) view of the carpus. Factors predisposing horses to carpal injury have not been well investigated.
Objectives: To determine the importance of MCJ lameness as a cause of wastage in young Standardbred racehorses, stage of training at which it occurs and predisposing factors, and to describe clinical findings and diagnosis.
Methods: Standardbred horses (n = 114) entering their first year of race training were examined at approximately 3-month intervals over 12–18 months. For 87 of the horses, a training diary was available and these horses were trained at 3 different stables, each using a different exercise regime. At each examination, forelimb conformation, MCJ effusion, MCJ lameness and radiographic findings were graded, and training history and reasons for lost training days recorded. Nuclear scintigraphy and exploratory arthroscopy were performed on a limited selection of horses. Results for horses that developed MCJ lameness during the study period were compared statistically with results for horses that did not.
Results: Carpal lameness occurred in 28% of horses and was present in 56% with forelimb lameness. In most cases lameness was mild, bilateral and with little or no MCJ effusion and was attributed to subchondral bone pain associated with radiographic evidence of C3 sclerosis. Carpal lameness was the most common reason for >1 month's rest during the study period. It occurred at any stage of training but, in most cases, some speed training had begun. Of the variables studied, poor forelimb conformation and more intense speed training were predisposing factors.
Conclusions and potential relevance: The information gained should assist in making recommendations regarding training young Standardbreds to reduce the incidence of MCJ lameness. However, further investigations to determine the optimal training regime are warranted.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Publisher: Equine Veterinary Journal Ltd.
Copyright: © 2006 EVJ Ltd
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