An Alternative Treatment for Equine Navicular Disease is Applied Equine Podiatry
When presented with a horse diagnosed with navicular disease, it is imperative to evaluate the foot structure.
As I do not subscribe to the conventional definition of a well-conformed foot, I assess the foot with an eye on the health of the Internal Arch Apparatus.
I have found that navicular pain results from a loss of those structures that help in maintaining proper biomechanical function of the joint.
And in the positioning of the coffin bone in its relation to the joint and the distal limb.
These structures include not only the distal sesamoidean ligaments and tendons, but also the lateral cartilage and digital cushion.
Where conventional thinking focuses on the stress exerted by the deep digital flexor tendon on the navicular bursa, and reacts to reduce this stress by reducing break-over or increasing foot angle.
I find myself more concerned with heel placement and the effect it has on the biomechanics of joint movement, circulation, and neurological function.
Where are the heels in relationship to the center axis of the joint?
No shoe can alter the position of heels in relationship to this center axis, but it does alter the forces acting on the joint.
This may temporarily reduce pain, but it’s seldom successful in stopping the progression of the disease.
This conventional approach ignores the importance of the Internal Arch Apparatus and the role it plays in energy utilization. The key to treating navicular pain is to consider the whole.
Simply trimming the heels to get them to the widest part of the frog, or reducing break-over, does not address the underlying cause of the pain; the loss of structure causing undue stress on the supporting structures of the joint.
Instead we provide the correct stimulus that will ultimately result in reducing the stresses associated with the progression of the disease process, and help restore sound structure and proper function.
I have found that pain management is essential during this time, and that pain can effectively be managed homeopathically and by the use of closed cell foam pads as a rehabilitative strategy.
Over the past eight years, I have worked on many horses diagnosed with navicular syndrome / disease, and most had weak structure to the caudal (back) aspect of the foot.
But with correct trimming to achieve balance of the hoof capsule to that of the Internal Arch Apparatus, the appropriate application of stimulus (exercise/pressure) to aid in the return of correct structure, and sound pain management practices, I was able to eliminate the condition.
For more information on Applied Equine Podiatry, please visit www.appliedequinepodiatry.org