Saturday, January 10, 2015

General Info Regarding Navicular Syndrome In Horses

By Enid Hinton

People who work with or own horses may be familiar with the possible health problems that can arise in these animals. Among them is navicular syndrome or disease. This refers to a syndrome related to soundness issues in these animals. It is commonly defined as the degeneration or inflammation of the navicular bone and surrounding tissues. Navicular syndrome in horses can lead to other significant problems, including lameness that leaves the animal disabled.

In order to understand what this syndrome involves, one must first know what the navicular region includes. This bone is positioned posterior to the coffin bone and also underneath the small pastern. The navicular is surrounded by several ligaments that provide it with support.

No single cause has been associated with this syndrome, although there are plenty of theories about what contributes to it. Two commonly held beliefs for the cause: tension and compression. Compression theories suggest that the continual compression in this region can lead to degeneration of fundamental cartilage. This eventually leads to a great reduction in the amount of shock absorbency and spring in the feet. It could also cause brittleness and lead to major friction between bones because of absence of cartilage.

Another potential cause for this is tension that is placed on the ligaments that are around the navicular bone. Some say that the degenerative process starts with the added tension placed on ligaments, which results in straining and inflammation. This can lead to decrease of blood flow to and from the bone.

If the blood flow is held back, pressure may build inside the bone. When there is this extra pressure and no blood, this bone may begin to absorb mineral in its center, which is cause for concern. Another issues associated with tension is the problem of exostoses, or the ligaments attaching to this bone. Sometimes the tension becomes so much that the ligaments start to tear.

There are certain things that can exacerbate the issues. Body weight, work, shoeing and conformation may worsen the condition. There are certain things to look out for when diagnosing this problem. Heel pain is perhaps the most common side effect. Lameness is also common and may start as a mild problem and develop to something more serious, even disabling. This might be due to the strain and inflammation on ligaments that are used to support the bone, increased pressure, or reduced blood flow. Navicular bursa and DDF tendon damage, as well as cartilage erosion, might also develop.

Horses affected by this might have tiptoe gait. That is, they may try walking on the toes to avoid heel pain. Frequent stumbling may also be observed. Lameness might switch between legs and be inconsistent. If the problem persists without attention, the feet might change shape, usually becoming more narrow and upright.

Hoof care, medication, surgery, exercise and trimming can be useful in managing this condition. Typically multiple solutions are employed. Every situation is different and so it is important that horses be put in the care of animal professionals. Some changes that are brought about by the progression of this syndrome cannot be reversed. Nonetheless, it is a top priority for most to get he animal medical attention to relieve pain and slow the progression of this condition.

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