Lameness evaluation: Nerve blocks and Joint blocks

Our hospital facilities enable us to evaluate lame horses on a variety of surfaces both in hand and under saddle, allowing investigation of even subtle lameness. Once the horse’s gait has been fully evaluated, nerve or joint blocks are usually performed. This involves injecting local anaesthetic around nerves or into joints at various sites in the horse’s limb.

If the horse ‘blocks’ (appears sound) after injection of the local anaesthetic, we can use our knowledge of anatomy to determine which precise structure or structures are likely to be causing the lameness. Sometimes, in complicated lameness cases, multiple limbs are evaluated. In addition, we sometimes see a partial response to a block, indicating that there is likely to be more than one site of lameness in that particular limb.

Once the site of lameness has been localised, we use diagnostic imaging to investigate the affected area. This targeted evaluation ensures investigation of significant lesions and avoids unnecessary imaging.