Information about Laminitis

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Author: Wolfgang Busch

Anatomical and Physical Principles
The horse's body weight is transferred to the hoof capsule and the ground by the bone pillar which the limb forms. The lowest bone of this pillar, the coffin bone (P3), is suspended in the hoof capsule by a strong interleaved layer – the laminae. They convert the body's pressure load into a tensile load before the hoof capsule transmits the load to the ground as pressure load again.


Changes in a Laminitis Hoof
In a hoof which is affected by laminitis, the coffin bone loses its tight connection to the hoof capsule. Depending on the severity of the disease, the load can only partially be transferred as described above. At the same time, the coffin bone changes its position within the hoof capsule in many cases. As a consequence of this dislocation, the body weight is directly transferred from the coffin bone by way of the sole corium and the cornified sole to the ground as pressure load without the "detour" via the elastic suspension within the hoof capsule.

In a less serious case of laminitis, only the toe wall is affected. The coffin bone rotates backwards-downwards and notably its front edge, which is very sharp, is charged with pressure.

In severe cases, the coffin bone is more or less completely detached from the surrounding hoof capsule and sinks downwards; the entire bottom edge of the coffin bone is resting on the sole corium. The consequence is a pressurization of the innervated and sensitive sole corium which is not laid out for this amount of pressure. This results in severe soreness of the concerned areas.


Basic Principles for Orthopedic Treatment
These facts result in some aspects which must be considered when a laminitis hoof is orthopedically treated or an orthopedically effective shoe is applied.

1.) Dischargement of Damaged Areas
The separation damages the hoof capsule which is no longer able to transfer the body weight to the ground. On this account, it is necessary to discharge the damaged areas as much as possible until they have regrown from the top in a tight connection to the wall corium and therefore are capable of loadbearing again. However, the areas which may still be capable of weight-bearing (in case of rotation, especially the heels) must not be imposed with the whole body weight – otherwise, the connection between the hoof capsule and the coffin bone might be mechanically disrupted.

2.) Dischargement of Painful Areas
The painful area of the sole must be discharged; the coffin bone's sharp edge must not have any pressure-transferring effect.


Further Information
For further reading, we recommend the following pages:

Open-Toed Duplo Horseshoes

Shoeing Instruction for Chronic Laminitis

Latest Update: 2017-07-21


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