Being almost completely encased by a somewhat inexpansible and insensitive wall and sole, renders the foot subject to pathologic changes peculiar to itself. The very nature of the structure of the foot together with the function of the sensitive lamina is sufficient cause for an affection unlike that seen involving other tissues—laminitis.
An exhaustive consideration of foot affections is a study in itself and one that comes within the realm of pathologic shoeing; nevertheless, a practical knowledge of diseases of the foot is indispensable in the diagnosis of lameness wherein the foot may be at fault.
The peculiar nature of foot affections renders them difficult of classification on any sort of basis that is helpful in the consideration of this subject. Injuries are the most constant cause of foot lameness, yet one must admit that there results complications because of infection in most instances; and that in some cases the injury is slight—just enough to permit the introduction of vulnerant organisms into the tissues. Therefore, one might well classify affections of the feet as infectious and non-infectious. There can be grouped in the class of infectious affections such conditions as nail pricks, calk wounds and canker. In the class of non-infectious affections one may consider conditions such as laminitis, strain and fractures.
[Footnote 1: A System of Veterinary Medicine by E. Wallis Hoare, F.R.C.V.S., Vol. I, page 519.]
[Footnote 2: Ibid, page 807.]
[Footnote 3: Vol. I, page 534, Veterinary Medicine, by James Law, F.R.C.V.S.]
To observe attentively is to remember distinctly.—Poe.
Before treatment is administered in constitutional disturbances resulting in disease, cause is logically sought; so, in order to handle effectively any case of lameness, it is necessary first to discover the source of the trouble and contributing conditions affecting the structures. Hence, diagnostic ability is the prime requisite; and a thorough knowledge of pathologic anatomy or of surgical technic is of little value if this knowledge is not applied with the insight of the trained diagnostician.
The cruel and unnecessary methods employed by those untrained for diagnostics, cannot be too vigorously condemned. For instance, the application of an active and depilating vesicant upon a large area on the gluteal or crural region, in a case where the practitioner “guesses” the condition to be one of “hip lameness,” constitutes an exposition of gross ignorance, and at once stamps the perpetrator as a crude bungler without scientific insight whose works are no credit to his profession. How much better it would be, if the practitioner does not see fit to call in a competent consultant, to prescribe a suitable agent to be given internally, and to recommend complete rest for the subject.