Navicular Syndrome: Diagnosis to Treatment

By Garrett Metcalf, D.V.M.

The nomenclature surrounding navicular conditions in horses has undergone changes over the past 10 years with the advent of new diagnostic tools to further explore the causes of lameness that encompasses the navicular bone in horses. The current terminology shifts the sole blame of the cause of lameness in horses away from the navicular bone to include the surrounding soft tissues the make up of the podotrochlear apparatus in the feet of horses.

Hence, calling horses diagnosed with navicular conditions, navicular syndrome or caudal heel pain, rather than navicular disease, which implies the primary structure that is the cause of the lameness is the navicular bone itself.

Regardless of the terminology to describe these navicular issues, navicular syndrome is still a major player in causing forelimb lameness in many horse breeds and disciplines. Horses with lameness due to navicular syndrome commonly have a short strided, choppy gate, often land toe-heel rather than heel-toe and majority worsen when trotted in circles towards the lame limb.

Learn more in the September issue of OKFR.