Surprising findings about supporting-limb laminitis

A retrospective study shows that a variety of factors affect the incidence of this type of laminitis.

A recent British study suggests that the causes of supporting limb laminitis are poorly understood and in need of further investigation.

Triggered by a variety of systemic or mechanical factors, laminitis is an extremely painful, and potentially devastating, inflammation of the sensitive laminae of the hoof.

As the name suggests, supporting limb laminitis is thought to result from the overloading of a healthy limb when the injured one opposite it is unable to bear weight.

However, a case review of 65,327 horses admitted to Rossdales Equine Hospital in Newmarket between 2005 and 2013 suggests that the complication was not restricted to horses who had injuries preventing them from bearing weight on a limb, and it developed within a wide time frame: from four to 100 days after the initial injury. In addition, the researchers found that supporting limb laminitis is rare, with an overall prevalence of only .02 percent.

These findings, the researchers say, will make further epidemiological studies looking for risk factors “a logistical challenge.”

Reference: “Prevalence of supporting limb laminitis in a UK equine practice and referral hospital setting between 2005 and 2013: Implications for future epidemiological studies,” Veterinary Record, September 2014

This article first appeared in EQUUS issue #447, December 2014.

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