Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment Of Navicular Disease In Horses

By Michael Schmidt

Among the first species domesticated by the ever enterprising human race are horses. They have been so for at least four thousand years before the common era. And now, fast forward to a couple thousand more years, theyre still very much useful and endearing to people the whole world over. They are quintessential in many operations unique to the human enterprise, from sports, work, hobbies, to simple pet owning and caring. It is therefore imperative to look out for certain diseases and conditions that impinge on the health and well being or our quintessential helpmates, such as navicular disease in horses.

The navicular bone is a canoe shaped structure located inside the middle of a horses hoof, at the back of the coffin bone and pastern bone. The related disease, which is also called caudal heel pain syndrome, involves the inflammation and degeneration of this particular bone and its surrounding tissues. Its more commonly occurring on the forelegs rather than the rear.

Its particularly worrying since it is one that considerably lowers a horses usefulness and productivity, and correspondingly, its market value and intrinsic worth. You cant put the flak on people whose foremost concern is profit, that which is perfectly acceptable and valid. You can see the point if the animal is being used as a workhorse or racehorse. Obviously, it will no longer be able to run the track or pull the load.

Much intuitively, the repeated compression of this bone is a leading contributing factor in cartilage degeneration. The flattening of the cartilage causes it to be less shock absorbing and springy. Its continued abuse would lead to navicular disease in the long term.

Even when surgery is viable, the convalescence period is greatly compromised. Take other species, such as cats or dogs, which even if amputated are able to transfer and support their weight with their remaining limbs. These steeds have no such option, since their body is naturally configured so that weight is equally distributed on all four limbs.

The conformation of a body of a horse is such that transferring weight to other limbs is not at all viable, which anyone can pretty much picture out. Prosthetics are also out of the picture, since the horses movement is so precise and intricate that it cannot be imitated by some technology at the moment. As mentioned, bone shattering is usually more severe on these steeds than they are on others. One cant therefore blame owners for thinking that putting their animal to sleep is the best recourse to end its suffering.

A very specific instance of lameness causing disease is the navicular syndrome. In fact, this insidious ailment is responsible for the third largest contributive factor on the disability of horses. The bone of contention is a canoe shaped structure in the middle interior hoof of the horse. In fact, the appellation navicular comes from a Latin word meaning small boat, or something like that.

There are also medications such as vasodilators and anticoagulants that improve the blood flow to the hoof, and there are anti-inflammatory drugs to treat pain. Neurectomy, or denerving, is the last resort by which the palmar digital nerves are severed, and the horse therefore perpetually loses sensation in its foot. It goes without saying that the farrier, veterinarian, and owner should orchestrate their efforts so as to better the condition of the horse.

For a chronic ailment with no known cures, one can still mitigate the symptoms. Therapeutic hoofing is one such approach, in which a farrier makes customized horseshoes that is well suited to the horses condition, such that if the heel part is raised in comparison to the toes. Others would prefer removing the shoes, however, so as to increase the blood flow to the bones of the hooves. You can also pitch in some medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs or some such. Surgery that desensitizes the leg forever should be taken as a last resort.

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