Degenerative disease of the distal interphalangeal joint is seen - it can be associated also with new bone profileration around the proximal interphalangeal joint - in most breeds of horses, usually as a sequence of fractures of the middle phalanx involving the distal interphalangeal joint as well as fractures of the distal phalanx. Chronic infections of the distal interphalangeal joint lead to cartilage destruction and subsequent development of degenerative joint disease as well. Chronic wear and tear especially in Sports- and Western horses may also lead to degenerative joint disease of the distal interphalangeal joint.
Clinical signs can vary from mild, performance limiting lameness to non-weight bearing lameness accompanied by instability, depending on the severity of the insult to the articular and periarticular structures. In cases of mild lameness without additional localizing signs, diagnostic anesthesia will be necessary to confirm the distal interphalangeal joint as the location of the lameness. More severe injury or long standing degenerative disease will often have additional localizing signs, such as instability or enlargement of the tissues near the coronary band.
Radiography conﬁrms the diagnosis in most cases.
Scintigraphy, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging are useful adjuncts for a definitive diagnosis.