Distal limb neurectomy


Ratification Date: 08 Jul 2011


Distal limb neurectomy in appropriate and selected cases is an acceptable and useful treatment option for chronic irreversible heel pain causing lameness in horses.

The use of neurectomised horses in competitive events should be regulated by the sporting authorities and be subject to a specific Code of Practice or Standard of Practice.

The indiscriminate use of distal limb neurectomies is not supported.


Distal limb neurectomy involves removal of part of the nerve to the hoof of the horse. It is performed in cases of ongoing irreversible heel pain. Opinion is divided on the merits of horses being allowed to compete in strenuous athletic events after distal limb neurectomy.


The welfare of the horse must be the major consideration before distal limb neurectomy is used as a treatment procedure.

Before performing a distal limb neurectomy, a veterinarian must be satisfied that the owner fully understands:

  • all implications of the operation
  • the possible side effects of the operation
  • the requirement for continuing care of the horse after the operation
  • that some sporting authorities prohibit horses from competition after distal limb neurectomy.

Date of ratification by AVA Board 8 July 2011