Q. I have a 20-year-old Quarter Horse that is in top working condition, worked daily in basic dressage, and he is always happy to jump whatever I ask him to. However, before I purchased him, he had a deep wound in his offside flank. It’s long been healed, but it has left a star-shaped scar. He is very supple on his near side, but his hip is stiffer on the wounded side. Could this be from old wound tissue scarring, or perhaps some ancient muscle damage? I would like to know if physical therapy would help make this side become more supple, or can I have the scar tissue removed surgically? Any help you could give for limbering up a back end with former healed injury like this would be welcomed.

Stafford Whiteaker, Maubourguet, France

A. In a case like this, before giving any adequate advice, you first have to know exactly what is going on. With diagnostic procedures you will get a better idea if there is just scar tissue that is contracting, thus causing pain and disability to bend, or whether other structures are involved. Due to the location and the origin of the trauma you described, deeper structures are possibly involved, like lumbar vertebrae or pelvic bones.

A good clinical examination to evaluate the mobility of the region will give more information to decide if other techniques such as ultrasound, scintigraphy, or radiology are needed to give additional data for a good diagnosis. When you know the exact diagnosis, you can determine the best therapy.

About the Author

Rob van Wessum, DVM, MS

Rob van Wessum, DVM, MS, Cert. Pract. KNMvD (Equine Practice), is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Large Animal Sciences and Sport Horse Lameness Clinician at Michigan State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.

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