Medical Monday: Navicular Disease

22 Aug

Navicular disease (or syndrome) is the degeneration of the navicular bone, navicular bursa and the digital flexor tendon.

There are a number of factors that can contribute to the degeneration, however, there is no known cause.

  • Repeated compression can wear down the navicular bone and surrounding cartilage
  • Excessive tension placed on tendons supporting the navicular bone
  • Toe landing first may contribute to navicular problems due to the increased strain on the deep digital flexor tendon
  • Conformation may have an impact (genetic predisposition) – specifically conformation flaws that promote concussion
    • Upright pasterns, too straight shoulders, small feet, significant downhill build, long toes with low heels
  • Poor shoeing/trimming can have a negative impact
  • Any work that places additional stress on the deep digital flexor tendon – including steep hills, galloping and jumping

Symptoms can include

  • Heel pain (causing the horse to walk on their toes)
  • Mild/intermittent lameness


  • Corrective trimming/shoeing (with the purpose of shortening the toe and elevating the heel)
  • Continue exercise to promote blood flow/circulation but should be low impact – swimming may help.
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Posted by on August 22, 2011 in Health


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