Navicular disease, also known as navicular syndrome or caudal heel pain, is a common cause of lameness in horses. It affects the navicular bone and associated structures in the hoof, resulting in pain and decreased performance. While it is a chronic condition that cannot be fully cured, there are various treatment options available to manage the symptoms and improve the horse’s comfort. It is essential to work closely with a veterinarian to develop an appropriate treatment plan for an individual horse.
Here are some common treatment approaches for navicular disease:
- Farrier and hoof care: Proper trimming and shoeing are crucial for managing navicular disease. A skilled farrier can apply corrective shoeing techniques to alleviate stress on the affected area and promote more balanced weight distribution.
- Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as phenylbutazone or flunixin meglumine, can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with navicular disease. These medications are typically prescribed by a veterinarian and should be used according to their recommendations.
- Rest and controlled exercise: Resting the horse and limiting high-impact activities can help reduce stress on the affected area and promote healing. Controlled exercise, such as hand-walking or controlled turnout, may be recommended to maintain some level of activity without exacerbating the condition.
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy: Rehabilitation techniques like controlled exercise, stretching, and strengthening exercises can help improve the horse’s condition and reduce lameness. These techniques should be guided by a veterinarian or a professional equine rehabilitation specialist.
- Corrective shoeing options: Various shoeing options can be considered, such as heel wedges, egg bar shoes, or frog support pads. These specialized shoeing techniques aim to provide additional support to the hoof and relieve pressure on the navicular area.
- Joint injections: In some cases, intra-articular injections of corticosteroids or hyaluronic acid may be recommended to help reduce inflammation and pain within the affected joint.
- Alternative therapies: Some horse owners explore complementary and alternative therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, or shockwave therapy. While there is limited scientific evidence supporting their effectiveness in treating navicular disease, some individuals have reported positive results. It’s important to consult with a veterinarian before pursuing these therapies.
It’s worth noting that each horse is unique, and the effectiveness of treatment options may vary. Close monitoring of the horse’s condition and working in partnership with a knowledgeable veterinarian are crucial for managing navicular disease and optimizing the horse’s comfort and soundness.