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Traumatic injury to scapula. UPDATE #38. RIP. NECROPSY#125 BLOG UPDATE/PHOTOS #146

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  • Traumatic injury to scapula. UPDATE #38. RIP. NECROPSY#125 BLOG UPDATE/PHOTOS #146

    Hi All,

    I was driving out of my farm today and saw my rescue horse, Argus, out in pasture -- 3 legged lame and in extreme distress with his front left stuck way out ahead of him. This horse had been fine only 45 minutes earlier when I watched him trot with friends and roll. This horse is arthritic and goes down HARD on his left side when going down to roll.

    I felt mild heat midway along the scapula. There was swelling under and behind the scapula, extending into the girth area. At the top of the scapula, just under the withers, a large, hard lump that hadn't been there earlier in the day. Horse was non weight bearing and I thought I was looking at a fractured scapula or something similar.

    Vet was out immediately. Did a very thorough exam, ruled out hoof abscess or lower leg pain and focused on shoulder, which was painful mid-scapula. We got bute and banamine on board and horse could walk 4/5 lame with the banamine. Vet does not suspect fracture. He suspects nerve damage in shoulder and/or torn muscle along scapula. Maybe the horse fell or went down to roll and landed on a rock? Prognosis is guarded. We will know in a few days.

    I'm curious if any if you have had a similar case and what was the diagnosis/outcome? Thanks!
    Last edited by Watermark Farm; Dec. 9, 2011, 05:02 PM.

  • #2
    Experience (not good) with a fractured shoulder, but not one with nerve damage. Isn't that called a Sweeny? Search for it here, or google, and you can find out more.

    Sending get well wishes to Argus.


    • #3
      Same type of injury . . .

      In the Northeast we've had at least 2 other horses and mine present with sudden, severe lameness in the shoulder area. In my horse's case, he would not take a full step forward with his left front. Xrays, treated for an absess, (not the problem), took him to New England Quine in NH where a nuclear scintography showed hot spots on the point of his shoulder. They wanted to do surgery but we said no because the manpulations from the xrays and scintography made him worse. The 5 hour trailer ride home almost killed him. He spent the next four days not eating, drinking or moving on banamine and IV fluids. He slowly recovered to the point he was at before we took him to New England Equine. Our plan was to wait and see and give him time. Then after a consult with Tuffs, in which their surgeon said Garcon would never get better without the surgery and would very likely suffer a catostropic injury without further treatment, we took him up for surgery at the begining of September. The bursa of the point of the shoulder was inflamed with some density changes in the bone. They flushed the area and remodeled bone. The surgery was sucessfull but unfortunately for Garcon, they found that all of the cartiledge between his scapula and humeris had disappeared. Withing the time frame of 3 months. Don't know why. The bone is healthy with good blood supply. So he came home again, was on stall rest for a month, hand walking for 2 months and will finally be turned out in a small area this weekend. He's had acupunture, joint injections and adequan shots every 4 days and bute for a couple of months now. We know that we've done everything we could do, and that is some comfort. His stride is almost back to normal but the big question is whether he'll be able to be ridden and/or live without pain. Good luck and many jingles from Connecticut to your guy. It's very frustrating dealing with shoulder issues.


      • #4
        I had a horse who got kicked and sustained a fissure fracture of the scapula. He was totally three legged and very painful when it happened. Nothing we could do to speed healing, so we treated his pain and he went through 6 months of stall rest where he was absolutely not permitted out of the stall for the first 3 months or so. Eventually he healed and was "sound," although he was never quite the same.


        • #5
          Years back, had one with a Sweeney. Kind of a lump together term for anything that impedes the movement of the scapula as it "floats" above the rib cage. Can mean a hairline fracture, can mean torn muscle, nerve damage, bad bruising (if you are lucky), some kind of injury but the end result is the same, the horse is in considerable discomfort.

          Back then we did not have all the diagnostics we do today. Doubt it mattered much anyway. Treatment is rest, NSAIDS and hope. Even today it is a difficult area to image and we are talking some bucks for those diagnostics. Surgery may or may not be an option if and when you run all those diagnostics. And no way you'll get out for less then several thousand-insurance, if you have it, will need to pre approve ba$ed on complete diagno$tic$.

          I don't want to be Debby Downer here but...this is a tough one. You might want to consider all your options here-and the horse is in pain.

          With that one I had, I sold her dirt cheap as a broodmare and they got 3 very good perfoming babies out of her. She was put down at age 9. Wish I could share better.

          Oh, try some different NSAIDS then just the banamine...and in cases like this, short term for extreme pain? I'd go ahead and "stack", use multiple NSAIDS (under vet supervision to avoid negative interactions). He HAS to keep moving or the circulatory and digestive systems suffer plus, horses that are in pain get depressed and quit trying. You have to knock the pain down to give them a chance.
          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Watermark Farm View Post
            Hi All,

            I was driving out of my farm today and saw my rescue horse, Argus, out in pasture -- 3 legged lame and in extreme distress with his front left stuck way out ahead of him.
            Poor Argus
            I haven't looked at the blog for awhile but remember his story if any horse is going to overcome this, it will be Argus! he is one tough guy & you are an amazing lady! (OK woman if you prefer )
            I have no doubt that you & Dr G will make the right choice for Argus.


            • #7
              Oh Crap... Sorry to hear Argus is in the wars. Maybe I'm on here less, but it seems ages since you posted about him, and Ridge and your Mule and all the rest of your 4 legged family.

              Fingers crossed for a positive outcome - and I hope you and your crew are all doing well.


              • #8
                if it is indeed a nerve injury, there is a good chance it could heal
                My gelding crashed in the field and did severe shoulder nerve damage, tore some bicipetal (I know I spelled that wrong) muscle and had a bad bone bruise. His recovery was long and not complete but he was rideable after
                If there is nerve damage, I would look into doing electrostimulation- it is the only reason my gelding can walk (went from non-weight-bearing and extremely painful to toe dragging to only slightly less reach with that leg)
                I have posted my saga with him many times if you do a search, you can find the full details
                if you search on this forum for scapula, shoulder or sweeney you will come up with quite a few threads where this has been discussed and I am not the only one that has had success with electrostimulation
                There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.(Churchill)


                • #9
                  From my own experience with a shoulder injury I would get an x ray of the shoulder right away. Not too expensive and can tell you if you are dealing with a fracture. My TB gelding (12 at that time)that had been a sound 3ft hunter/eq horse tripped and fell on the lunge line. Came up lame, barely able to walk. My vet determined it was his shoulder, did not think it was broken. Took him into UC Davis VMTH and did the x ray which showed an old fractured shoulder in multiple places, tendons ruptured and calcified ( best guess was he did it on the track at least 7 years before, at that time I had owned him for 3 years) . With the recent fall on the lunge line he chipped a piece of the calcified bone off and was very painful. The resident at Davis reccomended we put him down. My regular vet said lets give him some time, see if he gets less painful and can at least be a pet.
                  Well we went with my vets plan, within a week he was weightbearing and within a month walking well. He took a year off but returned to work and some jumping just smaller stuff. He is 22 now, still going, Has some arthritis but we maintain him on Polyglycan and oral joint supplements and have a very good farrier. Now you can tell he is not perfect and his left leg never extends as far as his right but he is happy, not in pain and still enjoys being ridden 5 days a week ( we tried retirement, he quit eating and sulked)
                  Even if it looks bad if you can manage the horses pain and he turns around relatively quickly there is hope. I think the key with my horse is that he never went off his feed, and was weight bearing within a week. If he hadn't shown improvement so quickly we would have had to let him go.


                  • #10
                    Close friend had a similar injury -- horse with severe shoulder nerve injury, non weight bearing. Horse did figure out how to lay down and get up, so she could rest. Just had the first ride at the walk the other day after 11 months off. Improvement was slow, but horse was happy and sassy the whole time, so he let her heal at her pace.
                    Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                    Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                    We Are Flying Solo


                    • #11
                      JINGLING like mad for both you & Argus!

                      Many years ago a friend's horse suffered a Sweeney injury in a pasture accident (another horse crashed into him while they were roughhousing).
                      He was never rideable after he recovered, but he did recover and lived on for some years before she had to put him down from a totally non-related cause.
                      *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                      Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                      Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                      Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by bambam View Post
                        If there is nerve damage, I would look into doing electrostimulation- it is the only reason my gelding ...

                        if you search on this forum for scapula, shoulder or sweeney you will come up with quite a few threads where this has been discussed and I am not the only one that has had success with electrostimulation

                        chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


                        • Original Poster

                          Thank you all for the stories and information.

                          At this point Argus continues to be in considerable pain and can hobble around just a little bit. Bute helps considerably. Trying various combos to see what manages pain best.

                          We may not have long before having to make a decision for him as the shoulder injury is on his L and he has severe arthritis in his R knee, so he is struggling to some degree with bearing additional weight there.

                          Any diagnosis and treatment will have to be done on the farm, as this horse has only trailered once in his life and it would not be safe to take him off-site. (He belonged to a hoarder who kept him in a pen for 15 years straight; I've had him for 4 and when I got him he was semi-feral). Stall rest is not an option due to his neuroses with confinement. So at this point I'm keeping him in a smaller area with a gentle buddy and we're trying to be creative. I may try to see what we can find out with an ultrasound. I'm going to look into electrostimulation this morning as well. Vet and I are being pretty eclectic with pain management! Thank you, and I will update soon.

                          For those who don't know this amazing horse, here is his story.


                          • #14
                            Watermark, when I went through this, we had to keep my horse sedated for pretty much the whole thing, as he did not tolerate stall rest well. We gave him 3 cc of ace IM AM and PM for months, and it helped him cope.

                            With the issues with ace and geldings, perhaps that is not the best option (although CSU prescribed it for us...yikes), but if you need help to keep Argus quiet so he can heal, maybe something else would be useful?


                            • #15
                              That sounds tough Watermark
                              Jingles for you and Argus
                              With my guy, we went day by day.
                              Don't lose hope too soon.
                              He was non-weight-bearing on that leg for 30 days so each day I had to evaluate for sign of founder and signs that it was too much for him. Signs of either and I would have put him down.
                              There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.(Churchill)


                              • #16
                                My horse just got diagnosed with a bone bruise on his shoulder.

                                he came up lame a few weeks ago and never got any better so I called the vet. We looked at his foot which we blocked and he got a little sounder, but not much, he also x-rayed his foot to make sure it wasn't a coffin bone issue. Nothing came up. At that point he saw some scrapes on his shoulder and decided to ultrasound.

                                My horse could walk sound, but at the trot he would just hold the leg out and not want to put weight on it.

                                When he did the ultrasound he found some irregularities in the smoothness of the bone that is next to the bicep. It was right in the area of where the scrapes are. He said that the smooth line will look jagged with a fracture and sometime you can even see the bone fragments. My horse just had a fuzzy line, leading him to think that it is a bruised bone and causing some friction with the muscle when he moves out too far in turn causing pain. He compared the other shoulder and could see the smooth difference in the non-affected shoulder. My horse never had any heat or swelling, so that is certainly a tell tale sign that something is going on.

                                Your vet can ultrasound and should be able to find something along the muscle with the bone if it is broken, fractured or bruises. That will also show tears in the muscle.

                                My horse doesn't have nerve damage or any muscle issues, but the bone bruise was probably from a kick or him playing hard in the pasture.

                                I would try the ultrasound to see what it finds. They can also ultrasound the other shoulder in comparison to see if there are big differences. I refused to take my horse to the clinic, so I found a vet that had a portable xray and ultrasound machine.

                                I am sorry! Please let us know what the results of the ultrasound are.


                                • #17
                                  I only know about fractured scapula, not good. But I'd like to give you my best wishes and tons of jingles from KY on behalf of Argus. I've always loved his story and how he is now living the life he deserves.
                                  Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                                  Incredible Invisible


                                  • #18
                                    I'll keep the Jingling going for you & Argus.

                                    I haven't visited your blog in a while and the contrast in the videos of him in confinement and then him & Perigrin playing choked me up.
                                    You have done such a wondrous beautiful thing giving Argus back the life he and all horses deserve.
                                    *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                                    Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                                    Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                                    Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                                    • #19
                                      Just bumping/checking in to see if you have reached any conclusions about his injury? I have no doubt you will do whatever is best for him, just curious how things are playing out.

                                      Jingles to you all.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Watermark Farm View Post

                                        We may not have long before having to make a decision for him as the shoulder injury is on his L and he has severe arthritis in his R knee, so he is struggling to some degree with bearing additional weight there.
                                        Argus' special circumstances make it so much more difficult to choose the course
                                        {{ HUGS }}