Equine Sports Medicine is the practice of taking the findings of scientific studies and applying them to the management and treatment of the exercising horse. In other words, it is taking the science of equine exercise physiology into the field, arena, racetrack, trail, pasture- wherever horses need exercise- to maximize health & performance and to minimize exercise- related injuries and disease. Sports Medicine is for all horses, regardless of age, use, or activity level, not just elite athletes.
Sports Medicine at NC State is a interdisciplinary program, incorporating faculty that specialize in lameness & orthopedics, cardiopulmonary disease, neurology, and endocrine disease, with an advanced array of imaging equipment.
Advanced imaging is often necessary for lamenesses and complex medical problems seen in exercising horses. NC State has state of the art imaging equipment that will accommodate the equine patient. Imaging options include:
- Computed radiography: Enhancement of traditional radiographs
- Ultrasound: For tendons, ligaments, and joints
- Nuclear scintigraphy: "Bone scans" are commonly used to localize a complex lameness
- Thermography: Allows evaluation of soft tissue changes that often cannot be identified using other imaging modalities
- Computed Tomography (CAT scan): Provides information about the brain, teeth, and bones of the head. The bones of the lower legs can also be evaluated
- Soon to come is MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Both a high resolution magnet that requires anethesia and a lower resolution magnet that will image the digit of the standing horse will be available.
- Prevention: the most important step
- Diagnosis: aided by advanced imaging modalities and experienced clinicians
- Diseases of the Foot
- Preventive foot care, including podiatry radiographs and video analysis of gait
- Diseases of Joints
- Developmental orthopedic disease including osteochondrosis and subchondral bone cysts
- Diagnostic ultrasound and radiographic examination elaborate the need for conservative or surgical intervention
- Diseases of tendons and ligaments
- Superficial tendinitis, suspensory ligament and distal sesmoidean desmitis, deep digital flexor tendonitis
- Injuries can be seen throughout the entire length of the limb. A thorough ultrasound exam by an experienced sonographer is necessary for diagnosis of these conditions.
- Neurological Disease: Diagnosing the many neurologic problems afflicting horses and developing a fruitful treatment plan requires expertise and appropriate diagnostic tools. Spinal radiographs and myelograms are often required to assist in the diagnosis.
Photo by Philip Ruckart, Educational Media & Design, NC State University, College of Veterinary Medicine
- Arthroscopic surgical treatments
- Intra-articular medications
- Intralesional injections of tendon and ligament injuries
- Rehabilitation programs guided by diagnostic ultrasound evaluations
Medical aspects of sports medicine focus upon suboptimal performance of exercising horses. The primary areas include metabolic, endocrine, and cardiopulmonary problems.
- Respiratory diseases resulting in poor performance can be diagnosed only with the aid of imaging endoscopy and/or cytology evaluation of airway secretions.
- Cardiac dysfunction can best be evaluated by thorough cardiac ultrasound (echocardiography) & electrocardiograhy (EKG).
- The problem of reduced sweating (anhidrosis) can be a primary or secondary problem in warm climates such as North Carolina. It can be mistaken for lower airway disease.
- Endocrine problems may be related to adult horse exercise intolerance. Many causes for excess weight may be related to specific endocrine problems such as Cushing's disease or metabolic syndrome.
Did you know? Up to twelve percent of horses are affected with "heaves" (chronic respiratory disease).
The ongoing research in the Sports Medicine Program at the College of Veterinary Medicine is concentrated in:
- Advanced diagnostic imaging of exercising horse problems
- Rehabilitation of exercising horse injuries
- Cardiopulmonary Disease
- Endocrine Disease
Current clinical research areas that you might find of interest:
- Diagnosing hypothyroidism
- The relationship between Cushing's Diseases and hypothyroidism
- Possible causes of anhidrosis
- Laminitis and endotoxemia
- Heart disease
- Suspensory ligament problems
- New drugs for treatment of pain related to lameness
- New LASER therapies
- The use of diagnostic ultrasound in joint evaluation to evaluate and propose specific stifle injuries in the adult athlete
- New dentistry and upper airway treatments and procedures
- Evaluating shoeing balance
Stacie Boswell, Equine Intern
Amanda Curling, Equine Medicine Resident
John "Weston" Davis, Large Animal Surgery Resident
Liara Gonzalez, Large Animal Surgery Resident
Jay Harrington, Equine & Small Animal Ophthalmology Resident
Karin Kruger, Equine Medicine Resident
Raphael Labens, Doctoral Student
Daniel Orellana, Equine Theriogeneology Resident
Katie Sheats, Doctoral Student,
Andrew Smith, Equine Intern
Renan Sper, Equine Theriogenology Intern
For a list of graduate programs and how to apply click here.
Department of Clinical Sciences
1060 William Moore Dr.
Raleigh, NC 27607