Please enable JavaScript to access this page. Medicine And Fitness: Navicular Syndrome: The Achilles Heel Of Horses

Navicular Syndrome: The Achilles Heel Of Horses

Horses are part of economic activity in many areas of the world. They may be used to assist in manual labor, for transport, or in entertainment. However, they are live animals and so they suffer from physical illnesses and injuries, just like people do. A common equine problems is navicular syndrome, which leads to lameness and even premature retirement.

This syndrome revolves around the navicular bone and its related tissue. The navicular area's position is at the posterior (back) region of the hoof, at its base. When this area of the hoof becomes inflamed, it is most often in the animal's front feet. Besides suffering considerable pain, the horse limps or cannot walk.

People have been trying to find the exact explanation for this syndrome for some time. There are various factors at play, such as the size and shape of the hooves, the use or absence of horse shoes, the technique used to shoe the horses, and the type of activity that the horse is used in. None of these factors has been established as the sole reason, but they all seem to be involved to some extent.

The hooves' size and shape is important. Horses with a higher body mass and more diminutive hoof profile, or high weight-to-hoof ratio, may experience injury in the navicular structure. This is due to the obvious skeletal impact of their weight, and the same concept is seen in overweight people who develop premature arthritis or other joint problems. This issue depends to a certain degree on the horse's breed.

There are those who advise against the use of horse shoes. However, navicular inflammation has been seen in wild horses so this is not a definite cause. Where shoes are used, they should be the correct size and they should also be attached properly. Incorrect shoes are a known source of problems. Poor trimming of hooves is another.

Horses which spend most of their time on hard surfaces or carrying heavy loads obviously suffer more orthopedic strain and are more likely to contract injuries, as do those employed on steep slopes. Conversely, race horses also develop navicular bone trouble because they spend so much time standing still. A stationary horse cannot alleviate the static load of its own weight on its hooves, or alter its position, and this is why horses locked up in stalls for extended periods may also become lame.

Possible treatments for the syndrome rely on the full scope of equine medical practice. Sometimes, different trimming or shoeing of the hooves is effective. One option might be to go without shoes permanently. Modification of the animal's duties is necessary, either in the interim or indefinitely. Medication and surgery are also possible, but they are more drastic interventions and may have serious complications. Horses do not always recover completely and may not be able to perform the same tasks after treatment.

Awareness of this syndrome is extremely important for those who use horses. It is characterized by substantial pain and it should not be left alone. Timeous intervention can assist the animal's continued employment, even if it does not function at its prior level. Horses can't go on strike, but their labor issues also deserve attention.

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