Every year I get questions about stiff lambs with one or more swollen joints, these lambs are not doing well and they hurt when they move. Joints may show no swelling early. Navel ill needs to be distinguished from white muscle disease where the entire lamb moves with difficulty and the muscles may appear swollen. Lambs affected with navel ill tend to be the poorer lambs of the group.
Bacteria enter via the navel cord shortly after birth from contaminated surroundings and perhaps some times the vaginal channel during birth or assisted birth. My solution to prevent navel ill is simple, include one cc of penicillin along with one cc of CDT mixed in the same syringe when applying bands before the lambs leave the jug.
The long standing perceived method is to apply iodine shortly after birth. To do this adequately on a timely basis is almost impossible. Most of the time, all you achieve is stains of the fingers. A cc of pen at processing is much more effective and provides some tetanus protection as well.
Treatment resolves around sustained use of antibiotics, and I prefer penicillin. 1cc per 10# body wt daily subcutaneous. I like to start with two cc of dexamethasone once and Banamine can be used to control pain. Results will be determined by the amount of joint damage and early diagnosis is important.