Friday, January 16, 2015

Detailed Information On Navicular Disease In Horses

By Enid Hinton

The navicular bone and surrounding tissues sometimes get problems. This is the bone that is in the front part of the foot. It is located behind the coffin bone and next to small pastern bone. A strong bundle of tendons run across the part to the back part of the coffin bone. They also pass through the soft tissue. Some cartilage is found between these two bones. Moreover, there is a fluid sack just over the navicular bone to prevent it from getting abraded. The syndrome causes inflammation around this area and sometimes causing the bone to degenerate and causing disabling lameness to the horse. Therefore, there is much need to ensure navicular disease in horses is handled in the early stages.

The cause of the syndrome is not known. However, scientists have put forward theories to explain different factors that may lead to the condition. To start with, it is thought that the navicular bone compression under tendons and small pastern bone causes degeneration of cartilage layer. The cartilage layer flattens, becoming less springy making it less able to absorb heavy shock as the horse is moving.

Study has also found increased cartilage erosion along services adjacent to navicular bone in horses where compression is suspected. This is usually caused by biochemical changes similar to a human condition called osteoarthritis. If the erosion progresses, the underneath bone is exposed is unearthed and thus not protected. The tendons tend to rub more viciously on the bone surface resulting to inflammation. Compression is also responsible for increase in density of this bone making it brittle and susceptible to breakage even in little shocks.

Tension on the ligaments in this area also causes the problem. It causes strain on ligaments pulling the bone together leading to degeneration. This also decreases the blood flow to and from the bone. This region is full of blood vessels. When they are pulled apart, the vessels permanently thicken and restrict blood flow.

If blood is restricted from one side, there is a buildup of fluid in this bone. The bone responds to this reduced flow by absorbing mineral that is found at the center of the bone. Extreme tension causes exostoses. This is a case where ligaments get attached to the particular bone and compress it to a canoe shape. The ligaments may also tear in the process.

The treatment suggested by the vet is largely dependent on extent that the navicular region has been damaged. There are a range of interventions from conservative ones to aggressive ones. These include surgery, shoeing the hoof, trimming, and various medications, oral and intravenous.

When using shoe treatment, the vet places a bar across the horse heel to relieve pressure that build up on heels. The hoof wall quarters may be rasped or grooves cut to relieve contraction. The feet could also be trimmed to balance the foot. Most horses with the problem have long toes and small inner wall depth. Trimming also improves the hoof structure of the horse.

Medication involves the use of vasodilators and oral anti-inflammatory drugs to treat pain. Nerves are severed during surgery to relieve pain. However, this causes the horse to lose sensation on the back side of the foot.

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