Bovine musculoskeletal disorders

Neuromuscular conditions

Spastic paresis (Elso Heel)

This is a genetic, multifactorial condition seen primarily in Angus and Holsteins. It is primarily contraction of the gastrocnemius muscle. The gait change starts with very straight leg, then the animal can’t bring leg forward, and, finally, the leg is held behind. It is accompanied by a raised tail head (looks like tetanus and shivers).

Goal of therapy  (tenectomy and/or neurectomy) is to get to slaughter rather than to maintain in herd.

Spastic syndrome (Stable Cramps)

Muscle contractions or spasms of the hindlimbs. This can progress to hindlimb paresis or paralysis.  Considered a genetic disease.

Femoral/obturator paresis

This is often related to parturition or falling with legs back . Treat with floating in water (float tank), NSAIDs, lifting  with hip lifters or a sling.

Cattle can get this with hip lock dystocias.

Radial/brachial plexus

Damage to the nerve occurs with humeral fractures, rapid abduction (fall on ice), or being recumbent without padding. Treat with supportive care, splinting, NSAIDs, padding and floating. Splint down the back of the limb to help fix the triceps.


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Large Animal Surgery - Supplemental Notes Copyright © by Erin Malone, DVM, PhD is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.