Equine Nerve Blocks

By: Jenna Smedley and Katrin Boniface

      The administration of local anesthesia is often used to block feeling in parts of the horse for minor surgeries or to locate the source of lameness. The most common sites for nerve blocking in a horse are:
  • The palmar digital nerve, which innervates the back 1/3 of the hoof
  • The digital nerve, which gets the hoof and the back part of the pastern
  • The low palmar nerve block which gets the hoof and the pastern up to the back of the fetlock
  • The four point block which involves the whole of the fetlock and hoof.
    Each nerve block can be done on the medial (side nearest the middle), or the lateral side (furthest from the center) of the horse's leg to block that side of the leg, and they can be done on all four legs.

    To locate the site for the palmar digital nerve block you look for the vascular bundle just above the bulbs of the foot. Then you push it laterally and inject you anesthesia just behind the bundle. The bundle is composed of a Vein, artery and nerve in that order.  
    Once the anesthesia has been administered it takes about five minutes to take effect then you should be able to test the horse by walking them off to see if they are still lame or poking them to see if they can feel that area.
      This is the site for administering a nerve block for the lateral digital nerve
     This is the site for the lateral low palmar nerve block which is also one of the four points in the four point block.