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Home:Equine Diseases: Equine Navicular Disease

Equine Diseases

Equine Navicular Disease


Equine Navicular Disease or “Syndrome” describes a group of conditions affecting the navicular bone and other related areas of the foot.  The navicular bone is a small bone in the horse’s foot and Equine Navicular Disease most commonly describes damage to the navicular bone as well as the tissue surrounding it. Equine Navicular Disease is more common on the front feet and could be referred to as a problem regarding the “soundness” of the horse’s feet. This equine Disease can lead to permanent lameness.


Equine Navicular Disease involves an age factor. It is usually not found in very young animals and most often afflicts horses between seven and eleven years of age. There is no cure for this equine disease.

Diagnosing Equine Navicular Disease is problematic and best done by carrying out a number of tests such as x-rays nerve blocks, hoof tests, bone scans, stress tests.  The results are then reviewed to find the most likely cause of the lameness or Equine Navicular Disease.

Prevention should be a priority and this can be achieved by keeping a check for good foot balance and heel support. This routine check could help prevent a very troublesome equine disease.


Symptoms of Equine Navicular Disease


  • Symptoms of equine navicular disease can be identical to those of sore heels, so they may take some time to pinpoint
  • Periodic lameness of any of the front feet could indicate the disease
  • A shortening of stride particularly when going downhill
  • Reluctance to turn
  • A stance involving standing with the damaged foot in front (pointing)


Causes of Equine Navicular Disease


The primary cause of Equine Navicular Disease is not known but the following are some factors which can contribute to this equine disease.

  • Hoof shape can be a contributing factor e.g. upright, small or large flat hooves but not considered overly accurate as a cause of the disease
  • Overwork
  • Age is a factor for horses between seven and eleven years of age.
  • Interference with blood supply to the navicular bone
  • Trauma to the navicular bone


Treatment of Equine Navicular Disease


Equine Navicular Disease can be treated but rarely cured.

  • Your  vet will organise bone scan and x-rays
  • Seek a second opinion before commencing treatment as equine navicular disease is notoriously difficult to diagnose.
  • Equine medication - Bute, Phenylbutazone, Isoxsuprine, Aspirin and Tildren (where possible)
  • In severe cases an equine surgical neurectomy. .
  •  Injection into the navicular bursa with Corticosteroids, Intraarticular Adequan, Hyaluronic Acid, and other medications.