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Things To Know About Navicular Problems In Horses

The lameness which sometimes emanates from the horse’s foot is caused by a different set of problems. Here are all you need to know about navicular problems in horses including the symptoms and possible treatments. In the past horse owners would ignore horses as soon as they are termed navicular but the awareness is increasing. Veterinarians and horse owners now understand there is a myriad of problems that can affect that part of the horse’s anatomy. While some issues can be fixed others can be too problematic. In some breeds of horses, the problem may be worsened by age. It is therefore important that horse owners be checking their horses so that they can recognize early signs of the navicular syndrome and explore the possible treatments for the diagnosed navicular problems.

Navicular bone refers to a small bone that is found at the hoof deep at the back junction. The bone looks like a canoe and that is why it was referred to as navicular which is derived from the Latin word for small canoe. There are several soft issues around the navicular bone. The main function of the navicular bone is to offer a gliding surface where flexor tendon changes angle and bends at areas around the fetlock. The navicular disease was initially used to describe lameness which the pain in the navicular bone and the surrounding areas causes. Lameness which emanates from the area is often caused by various problems that affect the caudal aspect of the horse’s foot and subsequently lead to similar clinical signs.

Multiple problems can cause the pain and lameness in the navicular area which includes injury and inflammation of the ligaments and flexor surface problems. These problems are common in performance horses and general causes forelimb lameness. The other possible causes of navicular problems are the hoof conformation abnormalities which include backward and forward hoof axis, sheared heels, underrun heels, mismatched hoof angles, contracted heels, and disproportionally small feet.

Navicular problems can affect both front feet to different degrees. In most cases, one foot is more painful and that is why most horse owners notice the lameness of a single leg first. When carefully observed, it would be noticed that the animal can be short-stride in both limbs and can even swap lame legs as they navigate corners or tight corners. When this lameness set in, the foot will land to toe to heal as opposed to the normal heel to toe landing. If you want to easily capture navicular problems and their effects, capture the horse on a video and later look at the video focusing on the feet.

Having evaluated your horse, call your veterinarian to diagnose the issue with your horse and confirm if it is a navicular syndrome. Limb manipulations might not be very specific because it is difficult to create pressure or tension on one structure in isolation. The vet will then recommend treatments that could be conservative or aggressive with options of shoeing treatment, medical and surgical treatments.

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