In the examination of young animals, unused to harness and to other strange incumbrances, one is obliged to make allowance for impediments of gait, which are not occasioned by diseased conditions. Such affections have been termed “false lameness.” Young mules that are not well broken to harness, are difficult subjects for examination and in some cases it is necessary to have them led or driven for a considerable distance before one can definitely interpret the nature of the impediment in the gait when lameness is not pronounced. It is especially difficult to satisfactorily examine such subjects, for the reason that their normal rebellious temperaments cause resistance whenever a strange person approaches them, as it is necessary to do for an examination by palpation. In such cases—if an examination does not reveal the cause of trouble, rest must be recommended and further examination made at a later date, whereupon any new developments may be noted, if such changes exist.
Special Methods of Examination.
After having completed a general examination of a lame animal—obtaining the history of the case, noting its temperament, type, size, conformation, position assumed while at repose, swellings or enlargements if present, causing the subject to move to note the degree and character of lameness manifested; palpating and manipulating the parts affected to acquire a fairly definite notion of the nature of an inflammation or to recognize crepitation it becomes necessary in some cases to employ peculiar means of examination in singular instances. This may be done by making use of cocain in solution for the production of local anesthesia as in lameness of the phalanges. Such means are not, in themselves, dependable but are valuable when used in conjunction with all other available and practical methods.
Trial use of various shoes in order to shift the weight from one part of the foot to another or to cause an animal to “break over” in a different manner so that the gait may be changed, constitutes a special test procedure. The use of hoof testers or of a hammer to note the degree or presence of supersensitiveness is another means that is of practical service. No examination, in any case of lameness, is complete without having removed the shoe and scrutinized the solar surface of the foot.
[Illustration: Fig. 1—Hoof testers with special jaws of sufficient size to grasp the largest foot.]
Diagnosis by exclusion, finally, is resorted to, and, as in any other case where the recognition of cause is difficult, exclusion of the existence of conditions,—one at a time, by an analysis of symptoms—generally enables the practictioner to eliminate all but the disturbing element.
[Footnote 4: By stride is meant the distance between two successive imprints of the same foot. The term is not used in this work as being synonymous with step.]