Brachiocephalic / Pectoral Seam Tears and Strains
This injury is quite common in younger horses and through the winter months. In younger horses having their first gallops this area often stretches when the associated forelimb is in a state of hyper flexion just before the leg is lifted off the ground for the next stride. Seams between muscles are much weaker designed areas then the muscles themselves, therefore as the area is stressed, strains and tears easily develop in the seams before developing in the muscle.
Symptoms include hypertonicity and guarding of the chest and base of the neck region including the deeper brachioradialis muscle. There is a shortened/restricted forward phase of stride of the forelimb and due to the pain and hyper tonicity of the region there is also an increase in weight bearing on the medial aspect of the forelimb. At the canter the horse lands on the medial aspect of the hoof putting more stress on the medial foot, fetlock, splint bone and knee. Although this commonly stresses the medial knee and manifests as pain and inflammation in the carpal bones and ligaments.
Treatment includes acupuncture to restore the chi and blood stagnation locally and to reduce the medial forelimb hyper tonicity and pain. By doing this the muscle spindles are reset which allows for muscle lengthening and a reduction in hypertonicity, this reduces the stress on the medial aspect of the forelimbs such as the knees.
Liniments and or ultrasound therapy are used locally to increase heat and reduce hypertonicity to allow the region to heal with reduced scar tissue, this reduces the chance of reinjury in the region by enhancing elasticity of the region.
Passive stretching of the region is another ongoing therapy which can greatly enhance the results. For this injury the affected forelimb is picked up and flexed at the knee, then one hand is placed on the forearm just above the knee to draw the flexed limb backward. his passive manouver stretches the seam and the associated brachiocephalic, cranial pectoral and brachioradialis muscles allow them to lengthen and free up the shoulder, chest and neck region.
Common Horse Injuries & Treatments