Dr. Jan Shearer-DVM MS
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
A sole ulcer is described as a circumscribed loss of the horny sole which exposes the corium.
Sole ulcers tend to be one of the most debilitating of lameness conditions affecting dairy cattle.
Appearance of the lesion will vary according to its maturity. Early ulcers may appear as nothing more than a circumscribed area of flesh tissue that may be uncovered in the process of hoof trimming. More mature or long-standing sole ulcers may be covered initially by rough, irregular horn tissue that when pared away exposes granulation tissue which bleeds freely if damaged.
Laminitis is thought to be major preisposing cause of sole ulcers. The combination of excessive hoof horn formation, displacement of the pedal bone, the production of softer solearhorn, and the accelerated growth of hoof horn on the anterior and biaxial hoof walls predispose the lateral claw to excessive loading, wear, and weight-bearing at the "typical site". The additional strain and pressure applied to the heel/sole region (or toe in the case of toe ulcers) exacerbates dysfunction of the underlying corium and leads to development of the lesion. Treatment requires removal of the necrotic (dead or decaying) horn tissue followed by elevation of the affected claw with a footblock attached to the unaffected claw. All healthy horn tissue should be left in place.
Regular hoof trimming is an important factor in lowering the incidence of sole ulcers. Periodic trimming maintains appropriate weight-bearing on all claws and reduces the potential for excessive claw-loading and sole ulcer development.