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Equine Diseases

Equine Navicular Disease


Equine Navicular Disease is also known as Equine Navicular “Syndrome”.  It represents collective equine problems affecting the navicular bone and related areas of the feet.  This equine disease centres on the small bone in the horse’s foot known as the navicular bone and its surrounding tissue.  Equine Navicular Disease is more common on the front feet.   Equine navicular disease can be suspected with any form of lameness and is therefore quite difficult to diagnose.   .


Age is a contributing factor in equine navicular disease affecting horses in the seven to eleven year age bracket.  Equine navicular disease is not curable. 

Diagnosing equine navicular disease is best done by carrying out tests on the navicular bone such as x-rays, nerve blocks, hoof tests, bone scans, stress tests. All are necessary as there can be many causes for equine lameness so thorough testing is the only way to establish if equine navicular disease is present.

Checks on a regular basis for good foot balance and heel support will help prevent this very troublesome equine disease.


Symptoms of equine navicular disease range from periodic lameness in any of the front feet to a shortening of stride going downhill, reluctance to turn around and pointing (standing with the damaged foot out in front).

The primary cause of equine navicular disease is not known at present but some owners give credence to hoof shape being a contributing factor in equine navicular disease. Others consider this to be irrelevant to the disease. 

Too much hard work in less than ideal conditions is a much more likely to be a cause of equine navicular disease.
A horse’s age will have a bearing on the disease also – the age group between seven and eleven years is particularly vulnerable. Any blockage of blood supply to the navicular bone or any trauma to the bone itself could be a factor in the disease.


Equine Navicular Disease cannot be cured but it can be treated. Do make sure you get a second opinion on the results of the tests as diagnosis is very difficult.  The most common forms of treatment for equine navicular disease are:

  • Bone scan and x-rays.
  • Medication - Bute, Phenylbutazone, Isoxsuprine, Aspirin and Tildren (can be difficult to get)
  • Equine surgical neurectomy for very severe cases but only gives temporary relief
  • Injection into the navicular bursa with Corticosteroids, Intraarticular Adequan, Hyaluronic Acid, and other medications.
  • Corrective trimming and shoeing is important to ensure level foot fall and foot balance







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