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He GOT a neurectomy.... w/ Updates to the Story.

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  • He GOT a neurectomy.... w/ Updates to the Story.

    Vet is coming to block my horse at the nerve where his nerves will be cut so I can get a generalization of how he is going to move, soundness wise afterwards. Is this the general to-do's prior to the surgery?

    Vet seems to want to try more "in between" treatments such as injecting the navicular bone with a chance of him being sound or not. Which I do not want to do. I am tired of all the in betweens and want this horse to be comfortable.

    I have read good and bad about neurectomy's and I am willing to take the risk. He is not old and his choice is either be sore (even with the right shoeing and bute) and do nothing to rest of his days or cut the nerves and let him go on at least pain free for a while (hopefully a long while). I am aware of the nerves growing back. I know he will not be able to feel the heal of his feet but he will be able to feel his toe... so, there is feeling there to some degree.

    You who has had this procedure done could you talk to me about the surgery a bit and the after care? Time on rehab, what was your end result etc?

    I know some of you are going to say that you would not do this to your horses and that is fine, that is your choice. This is my choice for my horse. He is in pain so why not fix that to the best I can for him?

    Last edited by Ozone; Aug. 18, 2010, 01:53 PM.

  • #2
    I have a mare who I did this with. Looking back now, I would have pulled her shoes, thrown her out into a big pasture for a year or two with regular trimming by a different farrier, and then looked at her again.
    Stoneybrook Farm Afton TN


    • #3
      The recovery was not a problem. She went back into modified work, but the root problem still wasnt addressed so she continued to have issues throughout her body. I would not approach this type of situation the same way I did before; knowing what I know now.

      I hope you are able to make a decision that you feel comfortable with for you and your horse. Best of luck with whatever you decide.
      Stoneybrook Farm Afton TN


      • Original Poster


        Other issues throughout her body that were found to be an issue after the neurectomy?

        I would love to do the in the field situation with him but I would have to board him elsewhere to do that, which is not an option for me.

        What can go wrong with the surgery? I am aware of ner-(something) that could happen at the nerve ends? Was it performed at the barn or at the clinic?


        • #5
          The horse can develop neuromas, which are truly painful, in and of themselves.

          I would never to a surgical neurotomy. I had a horse we did chemical neurotomies on-- and it was a real eye opener. He was so much better, because he had been compensating everywhere else in his body, forever. We got about a month out of each treatment, and, eventually, his heels opened up, and he was so much more sound, all around, you could stop the things.

          Try something that is not irreversible- your Vet is on the right track.
          When someone shows you who they are, BELIEVE them- Maya Angelou


          • #6

            You misunderstood me. Or I didn't communicate correctly...

            ABS stars makes a great point about the chemical blocks.
            Stoneybrook Farm Afton TN


            • Original Poster

              Re: chemical blocks, that is what he suggested but said we could see a difference or could not see a difference... ????

              What is the sucess rate of chemical blocks?

              Really tired of all the drugs and shoeing with no results... It stinks!!!


              • #8
                Good End Result

                Although my old gelding had a surgical neurectomy before I knew him, I had
                14 wonderful years with him and it just was not an issue. He had some arthritis issues that kept him on the "riding horse" program instead of the "show horse" program. No more stumbling than any other horse. His surgery was just a snip because it was done 20 years ago - I would imagine it has greatly improved. He rarely required bute and was barefoot and out 24/7 except for weather the last 7 years of his life. We rode and jumped field type small jumps until the week he twisted his intestine and didn't make it through surgery. He was 25.

                Are you near a vet school or orthopedic surgeon? Maybe your vet has seen some go badly and thus the hesitation.

                Good luck and let us know how it goes.


                • Original Poster

                  Hidden: Did you know your horse was nerved before you purchased him?

                  Thanks for your post. I need to hear positive outcomes with this. Really not what can go wrong afterwards. Sounds like your guy lived a fine life (late sorrys on your loss), that's what I want for my horse. He no longer is required to be the superstar he once was, just a comfy horse to plod around on when he's feeling up to it

                  I feel like maaaaybe my vet has never done one before and that what brings out the hesitate, not sure though. Vet comes right out of the clinic that performs these kind of surgeries... maybe he has see some with no good results. I will know next week. Will be asking a ton of questions!!!


                  • #10
                    My 8 year old horse had a neurectomy in January. I would not have a vet do the procedure who was not VERY experienced. My horse went to the clinic for a week; they put him under with general anesthesia, then kept him there to make sure everything was okay. He was on stall rest for six weeks, then I brought him back very slowly, three months of easy arena riding. He's now back to being my primary trail riding horse, and he doesn't take a wrong step. And he's pain free.

                    I spent a year with him turned out, while I tried everything my vets and I could think of to figure out what was wrong. No navicular changes showed up on the x-rays, I spent thousands of dollars in treatments and shoeing, repeated vet consultations, and general trial-and-error. He just limped around back there, no matter what I tried, and I finally decided to go for the surgery.

                    My trainer has had quite a few horses over the years who were nerved, and she encouraged me to do it, as a last resort. I'm very happy with how it's working out. We were just up in the mountains on Tuesday, over some very harrowing stretches of trail, and he never took a wrong step.

                    Just make sure you do your homework, and weigh the risks against the possible good outcome.


                    • #11
                      See a difference or not see a difference means it may help your horse or the pain may not be coming from where a block, chemical or otherwise, would help. Just because your horse has pain in his navicular area does not mean nerving him will fix it. Some horses it helps, some it does nothing for.
                      Shop online at


                      • #12
                        Ozone -

                        He was the horse I took weekly lessons on when I became a re-rider at 34. I asked to lease him after he chased a pony around a very large indoor and both little kids came off. It was clear to me that Fred needed a mental health break . That's when I found out about the neurectomy - not from the barn manager or on-site vet - but from several boarders who came up and told me all about it. When a job transfer came, I bought him.

                        Would I consider buying one again? You bet.

                        Because of how well my horse did, I guess I am more inclined to try it than some of the others on the board. Talk to the most senior leg vet you can find and ask your farrier who he'd use and what he thinks.


                        • #13
                          My gelding is 5 years out from a unilateral neurectomy. Recovery was 2 weeks stall rest, 2 weeks hand-walking, and 2 weeks small paddock turnout. my only regret was waiting as long as I did. He was able to teach me through third level once recovered.


                          • #14
                            We have two horses who have been considered for a neurectomy. The first horse is now age 24, and sound (other than some arthritic stiffness). We discovered that with injections every 6months-5 years, he stays sound. I'm glad we didn't do the neurectomy.

                            The second horse is aged 22, and can be kept sound with multiple other treatments (injections, IRAP, Tildren). My plan is to do a standing neurectomy if we cannot manage his navicular with the other treatments. However, now he has a suspensory injury and a splint bone fracture, as well as heaves and Cushings. I think the other problems will kill him before he needs his neurectomy.

                            A neurectomy is not reversible. I was told that it lasts an average of 2 years. I would not do it unless you have done corrective shoeing, coffin joint injections, navicular bursa injections, or whatever else a referral hospital/board certified surgeon recommends trying before the neurectomy.


                            • #15
                              I think one of the risks would be to the deep digital flexor tendon, my boarded surgeon perfers an MRI before denerving.


                              • #16
                                I think one of the risks would be to the deep digital flexor tendon, my boarded surgeon perfers an MRI before denerving.
                                Most "navicular" horses actually have soft tissue damage before they have bone damage, and DDFT lesions are commonly found on MRI. My worry with de-nerving is that, without pain as a warning, there is a risk the horse will suffer more severe ligament and tendon damage. Its not just a case of taking away pain - after all the reason vets don't normally recommend that you bute a horse with tendon damage and carry on riding it is because you are likely to do more damage that way.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by nicbarker View Post
                                  Most "navicular" horses actually have soft tissue damage before they have bone damage, and DDFT lesions are commonly found on MRI. My worry with de-nerving is that, without pain as a warning, there is a risk the horse will suffer more severe ligament and tendon damage. Its not just a case of taking away pain - after all the reason vets don't normally recommend that you bute a horse with tendon damage and carry on riding it is because you are likely to do more damage that way.
                                  I agree but do not feel that all riding should be stopped horses enjoy doing things with their owners and its part of their quality of life with many horses. The horse owner needs to become the "sensory apparatus" that protects the hoof that know cannot be felt by the horse. Horses should generally be retired from any competitive athletic endeavors following nerving but many seem to do well as light trail riding horses if the owner watches out for any rocks or sticks in the trail that they may not feel and trip over or can work in well groomed arenas as theraputic horses that work with special needs patients mostly at a walk, where the horse and client have 2 coaches walk along. Easy kind of jobs that do not put the horse and rider at risk once the horse cannot feel his feet and the ground underneath.
                                  George Spear
                                  CNBBT, CNBF, CLS


                                  • Original Poster

                                    WOW thanks everyone for positive and informational insight, I really appreciate it!

                                    His deep digital flexor tendon was inflammed, but it was to be expected and has since calmed down with bute. I guess after he is blocked next week I will be able to tell where the DFT is at huh?

                                    I have druged up, injected hocks, numerous chiro visits, Xrays up the ying yang, adequan/legend/supplements for this horse... I would HOPE (positive thinking) that he comes up sound blocked.

                                    With coffin/bursa/navicular bone injections did I hear some where that eventually the injection breaks the bone down and long term use is not recommended? I am open to hear about these injections however, I feel they are only short term help, no?

                                    Once he has the surgery I don't expect him to jump or do any rocky mountain climbing just hacking in a flat ring, same thing he has been doing this past year. Here's the thing, this horse needs to work, likes to work, likes to do anything but hang out in the pasture or in a stall. He was not made it sit. If he was then perhaps I would consider other options. He will become depressed if not in some kind of work.

                                    People who have no pro's for this surgery I think to compare it to any other maintence that you would do on your horse. Many of us go through great lengths for the comfort of our horses, yes, this is a surgery but so many have had surgery for good reason.

                                    I will be his "feeling" for his feet, I already do all hands on with him daily, and thankfully he is not an abcess horse, pretty low maintence foot health wise.

                                    My farrier thinks it is a great idea. He's been working on his feet for 9 years now so he knows him, his history and he and the vet work well together so I feel I am in good hands. I have a another top vet in the area that I will use should my "general practitioner" per say does not feel comfortable doing it.

                                    Overwhelming? Yes, but thankful for your stories and knowledge. I will let everyone what happens next!


                                    • #19
                                      I have a friend that has a horse that had navicular. She struggled for years and years to get him comfortable. Trimming, shoes, no shoes, turnout, no turnout, riding, no riding, and a pharmacy full of medications. She finally decided to do the neurectomy. I went with her to the clinic, as my mare needed to go up for something else. The doctor had it done in about 20 minutes. He hung out for a few hours at the clinic, then we loaded up and drove home.

                                      That was 7 years ago, and he is a new horse. She ended up having the second front foot done about 3 years ago. He is happier than ever and is still ridden daily. He just does flat work/dressage now, but he loves his life and his job. He had no complications healing and she has never regretted the decision for a second.

                                      Does it address the problem? No. But the vet at the clinic had been in consult with her for a year and reviewing x-rays and felt the rotation was done. He recommended she continue with the corrective shoeing and continue with x-rays every 6 months to keep an eye on things, but hes had not a single problem.
                                      Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.


                                      • #20
                                        Beware, the horse will have no feeling in that foot.
                                        Your horse will not feel an injury or infection and that can lead to serious problems.