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Equine Health Resource

Proximal Suspensory Ligament Injury, Front Limb

Strain of the proximal suspensory ligament of the forelimb is a relatively common soft tissue injury in sport and racehorses and comes from repetitive loading or overload of this structure. It can be difficult to diagnose, requiring a thorough lameness evaluation in most cases.

In many cases of forelimb proximal suspensory desmitis, there is little noticeable swelling. In some cases, pain may be noticed when pressing on this area, but this can be misleading too, as many healthy horses respond to pressure here.

The cornerstone of the veterinary diagnosis is high suspensory nerve blocks, followed by imaging the area with ultrasound. The gold standard in diagnosis of proximal suspensory ligament desmitis is MRI, because ultrasound may not pick up subtle lesions.

TREATMENT: This condition can be difficult to treat, and can recur after return to work. In particular, hind limb proximal suspensory desmitis (detailed elsewhere) is stubborn to treat and is rarely rewarding to treat over the long-term. At the least, high suspensory injury treatment involves extended periods of rest and gradually increasing exercise, with repeated reevaluation by a vet and ultrasound to assess healing.

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Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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