Lameness treatments at Montana Equine

Performance Evaluations

At Montana Equine, we focus much of our time on lameness diagnosis and treatment. All of our doctors are well-versed in the details of advanced lameness diagnosis and treatment. Lameness can result from any number of sources, including not just joint disease, but also conformational abnormalities, inflammation in tendons (tendonitis) and ligaments (desmitis), bone injuries, muscle pain and developmental bone abnormalities (OCD). We usually recommend a detailed, methodical approach to effectively localize the exact source of your horse’s lameness. Brief exams may also be indicated under certain circumstances and are always offered upon request.

Learn More about Performance Exams

Our specialist veterinarians all have advanced training in diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries and disease. We can help formulate a plan for returning your horse to its intended use and highest possible level of performance. Our veterinarians’ thorough approach is informed by long experience in conjunction with the solid research, and utilizes current techniques to maximize performance.

As part of the complete exam, the veterinarians at Montana Equine will take a detailed medical and athletic history of your horse and will perform a thorough visual appraisal of the horse at rest. We will examine your horse for conformational abnormalities, palpate all pertinent musculoskeletal structures for pain, heat or swelling, and evaluate the gait under varying conditions, including joint flexion tests. This evaluation process help steer us towards the best diagnostic tests. These tests may include nerve blocks (to regionalize the source of lameness) and/or imaging (such as ultrasound and radiographs). After evaluation, we can usually suggest a combination of treatment options, including body-work/chiropractic therapies, acupuncture, injections and other modalities to stimulate healing.

While some sources of lameness, such as foot abscesses and hock arthritis (spavin), are common and more easily diagnosed, lameness resulting from soft tissue injuries can be subtle and manifest as poor performance or reluctance to perform specific movements.

Biologic Treatments

Soft tissue injuries affecting tendons, ligaments, and cartilage are not uncommon in equine athletes. At Montana Equine, we often utilize biological regenerative therapies to help shorten healing-time, and to improve the overall prognosis for return to work. Depending on the situation, there are a wide array of biologic therapies available these days. Over time, it is likely that scientists will continue to refine these modalities, so stay tuned for future developments. We often use the following modalities at Montana Equine:


IRAP Interleukin-1 Receptor Antagonist Protein (IRAP) is an anti-inflammatory therapy, most commonly used for direct injection into joints. IRAP is purified and concentrated from the patient’s own bloodstream, and when re-injected, it decreases inflammation and helps the healing process. Once concentrated, the IRAP protein minimizes ongoing inflammation by binding to Interleukin-1, a major inflammatory cytokine. Decreasing Interleukin-1 means less inflammation, less discomfort and often, faster healing for your horse. In order to produce IRAP, we draw blood and incubate it to increase production of the IRAP protein. While IRAP is most commonly used in joints as a milder alternative to steroid injections, other uses are possible.


Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a biologic therapy made from your horses’ own blood. A blood sample is centrifuged so that the cells (red blood cells, white blood cells) become separated from the plasma. The plasma (containing a high concentration of platelets) is injected into or around the site of injury. The platelets stimulate the release of local growth factors in the injured area, which helps to stimulate healing.


Stem cells are unique is that they can become many different types of adult cell – they have the potential to become different tissues at a different sites of injection! Most commonly, we obtain stems cells from fat or bone marrow collected from the patient’s body. After the cells are isolated, they are cultured over several weeks, generating 10 million or more generic cells. After injection into an area of injury, these cells stimulate and orchestrate healing.

Related Presentations/Articles by Montana Equine doctors:


Shockwave Therapy: What is it? How does it work?

At Montana Equine, we have been using an ancillary treatment modality called “shockwave” for 4 years now. We use non-invasive shockwave therapy as a healing aide for certain equine injuries. So, what is shockwave? Read Dr. Peter Heidmann’s article to learn more:


PPT Presentation: Performance Lameness in Reining Horses

View Dr. Peter Heidmann’s presentation to learn more:


PPT Presentation: Equine lameness & imaging techniques

View Dr. Peter Heidmann’s presentation to learn more: