Shoulder injury/ upper body injury?

My mare has been intermittently lame LF for about a month. Whole leg from the knee down has been extensively blocked, still no diagnosis. Next step would be MRI or bone scan. No obvious swellings or injuries. Anyone have experience with upper body injuries or arthritis that cause lameness?

Shoulder lameness is more rare than lower leg issues… but not impossible. A great vet once told me that “if it looks like shoulder, it’s probably knee”. The shoulder joint is large, simple and well supported, so injury or issues are more rare. But if you and your vet are sure it’s not knee, it can indeed be shoulder. I’ve known two horses who I was fairly sure that the issue was shoulder, one was presumably an OCD issue in the point of the shoulder (but was never diagnosed), the other was presumably a break due to a horrific accident- not xrayed or diagnosed because of the brain injury at the same time which was the bigger threat to life. She survived the brain injury. The break healed in time, but caused founder in the opposite front foot. This one survived for several years as a successful broodmare, but arthritis became unmanageable. The OCD was put down I think (I didn’t own him, I broke him as a baby for his owner, at which time the lameness became obvious in light work) - he could not be kept sound. Both cases were decades ago now, not as many diagnostic toys available. Good luck.

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Yes I had a horse with shoulder arthritis. It’s rare. The vets thought it was prob due to an old injury or ocd as this horse had no arthritis anywhere else.

We did block the knee extensively, zero change in lameness. Honestly I was hoping for something more straightforward like knee arthritis. This does not appear to be from a pasture injury, as far as we can tell. No outwards signs of trauma.

It would help if they could speak English, wouldn’t it? They try to tell us, and we try to listen to them… but it can still be hard to locate and pin these issues down adequately, and sometimes even harder to help them, even with the newer veterinary interventions available. Good luck! Where are you going to go with this from here? Does your vet have any options offered assuming it is shoulder? Have you pulled that limb forward, and out, and back to see if any soreness in the shoulder can be found that way? Bend and flex it as best as you can?

The vet is also a chiropractor so she did do a lot of manipulation in the area and saw no reflex to pain, although this horse can be stoic. At this point she’s consulting with some other vets about our next step. Considering scans, or trying to block elbow or shoulder area to rule out more options.
Very frustrating indeed!

A few years ago my horse had a front leg lameness. Mildly lame at trot, no swelling or heat anywhere. No known injury. We did blocks, with no change in lameness. We tried stall rest and hand walking for a few weeks and still lame once we started trot again. My vet said that it was possibly something in the shoulder, but in her experience that was really rare. Eventually ended up taking her for a bone scan. At the scan, her fetlock joint lit up. After X-rays/ultrasound it was diagnosed as a mild fetlock sprain. We did a fetlock injection, another few weeks of stall rest, and then a slow rehab and she has been fine on that leg since. I have no idea why she showed no improvement with the blocks.

Check her neck for arthritus or injury. We got a young horse with intermittent lameness, showing by short striding. Nothing showed by blocking any parts on front legs. Vet said work her twice as much to the right as going left. It would stretch things in time, make her more balanced. Seemed to work. Then at a Clinic working on flexing head, the short striding was much more evident. She got jiggy on the long lines, not trotting out. Clinician said he was taking off the lines to see if she had a ‘tell’ free-lunging around the arena. Yes she did! She twitched her nose to the right trotting, both directions. He advised getting her neck x-rayed, see if there was anything.

We did the x-rays, they showed bone damage from previously broken vertebrae! Some arthritus starting, made collection painful, hence the jiggy reaction. Ok, good to know! Husband started to collect her wraps and one of the assistants came over and said “I wI’ll take her for you.” Husband said “for what?” Assistant said “Why to go put her down! She can’t do anything with a broken neck. You won’t want her now.” Husband got a bit noisy protesting, refused to hand her over! Said “Horse is perfectly usable, has been preforming very well in everything we ask. Just was not happy with a verticle face! " Vet came over to see about the hold up. Husband said there is nothing wrong with horse, she rides, jumps, drives with no problems, sure not going to kill her! Vet scoffed at that, so husband said " I can show you out in the parking lot.” He found a bridle in the trailer, hopped on bareback, rode her around in circles at all gaits, hopped over the guard rail a couple times. Vets were a bit shocked, seeing her easy movement, no lameness. Husband got off, put on her wraps and loaded her. She was used until age 14 when the arthritus got worse, made her gimpy. She had several wonderful foals for us, lived to be 28yrs old. Only horse I ever got for her pretty face and charisma! She was a great horse for us. I never even look at lame horses but I could not look away from her! Owner would not sell her, because of lameness then. I said I will take her if you ever want her gone! She did let us get the horse 6 months later, still very off, with no reason for lameness.

So get your horses neck checked, problem may be up there. She was a BIG growthy filly at a young, yearling age, long swan neck. We figured she tripped as a yearling, did a full forward roll downhill to damage the vertabrae. Husband saw several others like her in his Farrier practice over the years. All big, growthy young horses with the long graceful necks. They all had neck damage with x-rays, though not career ending once diagnosed. They came around with special exercises and shoeing, had good performance careers.

I had one that wouldn’t block from knee down, so opted for bone scan- elbow OCD.

We’re you able to do anything for the elbow ocd?

Yes, we did surgery, but he never came back 100%, he had some inflammation or irritation of a ligament over it that probably contributed, then a hind suspensory occurred a year later while still trying different options for the elbow so he’s happily retired now. But he was pretty old for an OCD lameness to show up (12, raced til almost 6 and then was schooling pretty high level dressage) so the whole thing was a bit rare.

this is interesting… I have been fighting the same thing with my mare for about a year now with no improvement

My mare ended up having an injury to the SDFT high behind the knee, it wasn’t shoulder after all. Apparently it’s a difficult area to block out.

Issues like kissing spine and neck arthritis can definitely cause front limb lameness. I did have a horse with shoulder arthritis as she got older but that was not wildly unexpected given her build, breeding, and lifestyle. It did cause front end lameness but it didn’t manifest until she was in her 20s.

If I had a mystery front end lameness, I think I’d do neck and spine x-rays (fairly easy and inexpensive) and if that showed nothing, I’d go with a bone scan (much more hassle and expense but covers the whole body!).

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Is she expected to heal and hopefully be sound again? @mlb722

The injury itself will likely heal. I did shockwave and am rehabbing slowly. Ultrasound in a few weeks.
The bigger issue is this mare has Cushings which predisposes them to soft tissue injuries and this is her third. The vets said this particular injury is common with Cushings horses. She injured her SDFT and check ligament in the other leg, and now this, within 4 years. Her confirmation and big gaits don’t help either. She was 3rd level dressage before the injuries. Each time she’s come back 100% but then some other injury pops up, despite the best farrier care money can buy, great footing and very careful work. It’s very frustrating since its never a mild strain, but 100% sound to core lesion.