Lameness associated with musculoskeletal disorders of the forelimb accounts for approximately 25 per cent of the authors' canine referral caseload. Lameness due to an underlying neurological disorder is less common and is often associated with weakness and, in some dogs, neurological deficits. Most cases of chronic forelimb lameness of musculoskeletal origin seen at the authors' clinic involve the elbow or, less frequently, the shoulder. The practitioner should, however, be mindful of the fact that lameness can be associated with any aspect of forelimb function. When dealing with chronic forelimb lameness, a diagnosis can be elusive and, with limited investigative techniques, frustrating. A structured approach to the investigation of lameness is therefore vital if the practitioner is to treat or refer animals appropriately. This article describes a step-by-step approach to investigating lameness in the forelimb in dogs. A second article, to be published in the February issue of In Practice, will describe the approach for investigating hindlimb lameness.
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