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Bruised Sole and Corns in Horses

By

James K. Belknap

, DVM, PhD, DACVS, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Ohio State University

Last full review/revision Sep 2015 | Content last modified Oct 2015
Topic Resources

Bruising on the solar surface of the foot usually is caused by direct injury from stones, irregular ground, or a poorly fitting shoe. Horses with flat feet or either thin or dropped soles are predisposed to bruising, usually at the toe or around the periphery of the sole. Bruising in the caudal sole at the buttress (the angle between the wall and the bar) is termed a corn. Bruising commonly occurs with no abnormalities present on the keratinized sole, although solar changes may be present ranging from some red staining of the inner solar epidermis (due to minor hemorrhage) to the palpable presence of serum either under the solar epidermis or seeping through it. If untreated, the affected area can become infected (ie, a subsolar abscess). Persistent, nonresponsive bruised sole dorsal to the apex of the frog suggests possible distal displacement of the distal phalanx secondary to laminitis.

A “corn” is most common in the forefeet on the inner buttress and can be caused by 1) the heel of a shoe improperly placed (heel of branch bent excessively toward frog); 2) a shoe left on too long, causing pressure on the buttress; or 3) shoes fitted too closely at the quarters or too small for the foot. Corns are described as dry (only mild bruising), moist (serous exudate present), or suppurative (infected or abscessed). Bruising may be associated with lameness, depending on the severity. When the foot is raised and the solar surface freed of dirt and loose horn, a discoloration, either red or reddish yellow, may be noted. Pressure on the affected area with hoof testers usually causes varying degrees of discomfort, again depending on the severity of the lesion.

Treatment of sole bruising is intended to remove pressure and protect the bruised area. In horses predisposed to corns, proper shoeing with branches that fit well on the hoof wall at the quarters and heels (and extend to the caudal aspect of the buttress) will decrease the incidence of lesions. In horses predisposed to bruising due to dropped soles, application of a wide-webbed shoe beveled on the solar surface (made concave relative to the solar surface) to avoid solar pressure will help protect the sole. Additionally, a pad can be placed on the foot to protect the sole. In horses with painful corns, the affected heel can be unweighted by trimming the wall and insensitive sole to minimize contact with the shoe until healed; a bar shoe can also help disperse pressure away from the trimmed area.

If the bruise/corn is suppurating, ventral solar drainage, usually established with a hoof knife, is usually adequate to allow healing. If the affected subsolar area is large, the abscess can usually be addressed by establishing small areas of drainage (~1 cm in diameter) at opposite sides of the affected area (established by probing), followed by lavage with saturated Epsom salt solution via either a 14-gauge catheter or teat cannula attached to a 60-mL syringe, repeated daily or every other day until healed. This is usually more effective than foot baths or application of poultices. The sole should be covered until the solar surface is covered by tough epithelium (horn). Parenteral antibacterial therapy is of questionable value unless cellulitis is present proximal to the coronary band.

OTHER TOPICS IN THIS CHAPTER

Lameness in Horses
Overview of Lameness in Horses
The Lameness Examination in Horses
Imaging Techniques in Equine Lameness
Arthroscopy in Equine Lameness
Regional Anesthesia in Equine Lameness
Disorders of the Foot in Horses
Osseous Cyst-like Lesions in the Distal Phalanx in Horses
Bruised Sole and Corns in Horses
Canker in Horses
Fracture of Navicular Bone in Horses
Fracture of Distal Phalanx in Horses
Keratoma in Horses
Laminitis in Horses
Navicular Disease in Horses
Pedal Osteitis in Horses
Puncture Wounds of the Foot in Horses
Pyramidal Disease in Horses
Quittor in Horses
Quarter Crack in Horses
Scratches in Horses
White Line Disease in Horses
Sheared Heels in Horses
Sidebone in Horses
Thrush in Horses
Disorders of the Pastern and Fetlock
Fractures of the First and Second Phalanx in Horses
Fractures of the Proximal Sesamoid Bones in Horses
Osteoarthritis of the Proximal Interphalangeal Joint in Horses
Palmar/Plantar Metacarpal/Metatarsal Nonadaptive Bone Remodeling in Horses
Sesamoiditis in Horses
Chronic Proliferative Synovitis in Horses
Digital Sheath Tenosynovitis in Horses
Disorders of the Metacarpus in Horses
Tendinitis in Horses
Suspensory Desmitis in Horses
Inferior Check Desmitis in Horses
Bucked Shins in Horses
Exostoses of the Second and Fourth Metacarpal Bones in Horses
Fractures of the Small Metacarpal (Splint) Bones in Horses
Fracture of the Third Metacarpal (Cannon) Bone in Horses
Disorders of the Carpus in Horses
Fracture of the Carpal Bones in Horses
Subchondral Bone Disease of the Third Carpal Bone in Horses
Tearing of the Medial Palmar Intercarpal Ligament in Horses
Osteoarthritis of the Carpus in Horses
Distal Radial Exostosis and Osteochondroma of the Distal Radius in Horses
Carpal Hygroma in Horses
Rupture of the Common Digital Extensor Tendon in Horses
Disorders of the Shoulder in Horses
Developmental Diseases of the Shoulder in Horses
Fractures of the Shoulder in Horses
Bicipital Bursitis in Horses
Infection of the Shoulder in Horses
Suprascapular Neuropathy in Horses
Osteoarthritis of the Shoulder in Horses
Disorders of the Elbow in Horses
Developmental Orthopedic Disease in the Elbow of Horses
Fractures of the Elbow in Horses
Osteoarthritis of the Elbow in Horses
Collateral Ligament Injury in the Elbow of Horses
Disorders of the Metatarsus in Horses
Bucked Shins/Dorsal Cortical Fractures of the Third Metatarsal Bone in Horses
Exostoses of the Metatarsal Bones in Horses
Diaphyseal Fracture of the Third Metatarsal Bone in Horses
Incomplete Longitudinal Fractures of the Plantar Aspect of the Third Metatarsal Bone in Horses
Focal Bone Reaction and Avulsion Fractures of the Third Metatarsal Bone in Horses
Fractures of the Second and Fourth Metatarsal Bones in Horses
Enostosis-like Lesions of the Third Metatarsal Bone in Horses
Disorders of the Tarsus in Horses
Failure of Ossification of the Distal Tarsal Bones in Horses
Osteoarthritis of the Distal Tarsal Joints in Horses
Osteoarthritis of the Talocalcaneal Joint in Horses
Osteoarthritis of the Tarsocrural Joint in Horses
Synovitis/Capsulitis of the Tarsocrural Joint in Horses
Osteochondrosis of the Tarsocrural Joint in Horses
Osteitis of the Calcaneus in Horses
Fractures of the Distal Tarsal Bones in Horses
Fracture of the Talus in Horses
Fracture of the Fibular Tarsal Bone (Calcaneus) in Horses
Fracture of the Lateral Malleolus of the Tibia in Horses
Tarsal Joint Luxation in Horses
Desmitis of the Collateral Ligaments of the Tarsus in Horses
Rupture of the Fibularis (Peroneus) Tertius in Horses
Stringhalt
Curb in Horses
Disorders of the Tarsal Sheath in Horses
False Thoroughpin in Horses
Luxation of the Superficial Digital Flexor Tendon from the Tuber Calcanei in Horses
Gastrocnemius Tendinitis in Horses
Calcaneal Bursitis in Horses
Capped Hock
Disorders of the Stifle in Horses
Osteochondrosis of the Stifle in Horses
Subchondral Cystic Lesions in Horses
Meniscus and Meniscal Ligament Injuries in Horses
Cranial and Caudal Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Horses
Collateral Ligament Injuries in Horses
Intermittent Upward Fixation of the Patella and Delayed Patella Release in Horses
Fragmentation of the Patella in Horses
Patellar Luxation in Horses
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Musculoskeletal Disorders in Large Animals
A seven-year-old Quarter horse gelding presents with a 1-week history of mild lameness. During the examination, the horse raises his head as he places weight on his left forelimb and drops it when placing weight on the right forelimb. Which limb is most likely affected in this horse?
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