Thermography May Be A Beneficial Tool To Detect Hoof Pain - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Thermography May Be A Beneficial Tool To Detect Hoof Pain

Thermographic imaging has played a role in diagnosing equine ailments for years. Noninvasive, it converts temperature data into images to indicate pathology that represents potential vascular changes. Often used on the body, scientists are now using thermographic imaging on the soles of horse hooves before and after working to determine whether a horse is experiencing palmar foot pain. 

The bottom part of the hoof includes the frog, the digital cushion, blood vessels, and cartilage. Sole pain can cause horses to be lame, but it can be difficult to determine the exact cause. Two main theories are that sole pain is related to vascular compromise or abnormal biomechanical stresses. These could include navicular disease, laminar tearing, ligament inflammation, deep digital flexor tendon issues, stress fractures, navicular bursitis, or bruising.  

A diagnosis is based on horse history, a lameness exam, hoof testing, and blocking of nerves to the leg.  Thermography may be helpful in determining whether vascular changes are present on the horse's soles. Dr. Cristian Zaha hypothesized that thermography may be able to be used to detect changes in the vascularity of horse hooves before the horse shows signs of lameness.

The researchers, all from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, part of the University of Life Sciences “King Michael I” in Timisoara, Romania, used 12 horses to determine whether there were differences in the thermal pattern of horses with hoof pain versus those without. They also wanted to determine whether there were changes in the thermographic pattern on the soles of horses with palmar foot pain in one leg before and after training. 

Eight study horses had confirmed palmar hoof pain in a front leg. Four horses without hoof pain were used as the control group. The horse's hooves were divided into three categories: pain-affected front legs; unaffected front legs on the same horses; and healthy limbs (on the control horses). 

The scientists measured the frog and toe area temperatures of the horse's front limbs with a thermal camera before and after 30 minutes of lunging. 

They found that after training, the temperature of the horse's toe area increased and the area of increased temperature grew in the limbs with palmar foot pain compared to the non-lame limbs and the study limbs. 

The temperature of the frog area didn't increase after training. 

The researchers concluded that thermography can be used to detect changes in sole surface temperature after training to determine which horses have palmar hoof pain. More research is needed. 

Read more at HorseTalk.  

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