As a rule, one is loath to recommend treatment, even in a simple transverse fracture of the first phalanx, in animals ten years of age or older. The conditions which exist in any given locality that regulate the expense of caring for an animal during the period of treatment, especially influence the course to be pursued in treating fractures.
Treatment.—For permanent immobilization of the phalanges in fracture, materials which might adapt themselves to the irregular contour of the member and at the same time contribute sufficient rigidity to the parts without doing injury to the soft structures, would constitute ideal means of treatment; but no such materials have yet been devised, and opinions are various as to the most efficient and practical method to employ.
After the fetlock has been shorn of hair and the ergot trimmed, the skin is thoroughly cleansed and allowed to dry. Several thin layers of long fiber cotton are then wrapped around the extremity—enough to pad well the member—and this is retained in position with a wide bandage. Gauze bandages are preferable to heavier bandages of cotton fabric because they are somewhat more elastic and yield to the irregular contour of the parts to a better advantage. Layers of three inch gauze bandages, which are soaked with a cold starch paste are wound about the extremity. Strips of leather that are flexible and not more than an inch in width are placed in a vertical position around the leg and these are also covered with the starch and securely held in position with the bandages. In this way, one is able to provide a sufficient degree of rigidity and at the same time, where the cast is carefully applied, little if any injury is done the skin. Such a cast is not difficult to remove and is so inexpensive that it may be removed and reapplied at any time it should be thought preferable to do so. Of course, this does not constitute an effective means of support if the parts are to be frequently and thoroughly soaked with water, but animals undergoing this sort of treatment are usually kept sheltered.
The same after-care is necessary in such cases as is given in fractures of other bones. Two months after the injury has been done, the application of a blistering ointment to the entire region is of benefit.
Results.—Much depends on the nature of fractures as to the success one may attain in approximating the parts of a broken bone, and in some cases of oblique fracture for instance, complete recovery is impossible, despite the most skillful and painstaking attention given. On the other hand, cases of simple transverse fractures make perfect recoveries in some instances. All fractures are serious, and in every instance the practitioner would best be careful to impress his client with the many difficulties which usually attend the treatment of fracture in horses.
Inflammation of the Flexor Tendons.
One of the most common causes of lameness in light harness and saddle horses is tendinitis, and because of the character of the structure of tendons and because of their function, an active inflammation of these parts is always serious.