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Navicular: weird things that work?

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  • Navicular: weird things that work?

    My horse was recently diagnosed with navicular syndrome and I'm fortunate in that I've yet to have had a horse with it until now. Aside from the tried and true things like coffin bone injections, isoxsuprine, quality shoeing, good joint health products like Adequan/Pentosan, etc., what things have helped your navicular horses that maybe were a surprise to you or considered "off the beaten path" treatments?

  • #2
    Navicular syndrome is a label - what exactly was diagnosed? Heel pain in general? That's a symptom, not a cause Horrible changes to the navicular bone itself? Very different story
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


    • Original Poster

      Horrible changes to the navicular bone. The horse has always done well being shod like a navicular horse, lives on anti-inflammatories, and when he recently became lame, we did some xrays and found significant changes to the navicular bone itself in both front feet. Given his history and current medications we decided the best decision was to inject both coffin bones. 2 days out he already has had significant improvement, but I like to think about the big picture and think about everything I can possibly do! Of course, I'm a graduate student so I don't have unlimited funds to do whatever I want.


      • #4
        tried and true things like coffin bone injections, isoxsuprine, quality shoeing, good joint health products like Adequan/Pentosan, etc.,
        well, actually, these aren't "tried and true"- most of them don't work. Isoxsuprine basically does nothing, neither do products like adequan that are helpful for arthritis.
        Bottom line the only things that really work are pain-killing attempts- the special shoes that keep pressure off the damaged bone, the injections you mention, oral pain-killers, and cutting the nerves. None of these actually stop the progress of the condition, they just make it more tolerable for the horse.


        • Original Poster

          That's a great point Wendy- I should clarify to say that I'm looking to relieve pain and improve the quality of his life as much as I can. I definitely understand that I can't reverse what's happened or "cure" the problem.


          • #6
            IME horses with severe navicular bone issues are most comfortable when the breakover point of the shoe is set to a plumb line from the tip of P3 AND the heels of the shoe are extended to a plumb line dropped from the heel bulbs AND the philanges are aligned on a straight line that intersects the centers of the fetlock joint, proximal and distal phalangeal joints. A difficult perscription to fill because the ventral breakover point is well behind the white line.


            • #7
              I'd focus on the best possible shoeing and footing and forget about the "kitchen sink" method of just chucking everything under the sun at the problem. That rarely has a good outcome, generally speaking.
              Click here before you buy.


              • #8
                Careful, shoeing, good footing and being careful how you use him. Dressage and equitation being more suitable than H/J and eventing.
                Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                • #9
                  In addition to the things mentioned, I suggest a million nose kisses and snuggles for the sweetest boy ever (I know the OP and her horse in real life. A sweeter, snugglier horse you will never meet.)


                  • #10
                    I have two horses that were diagnosed with navicular at the same time... bummer for me....

                    One horses navicular is additional vascular channels doubled with ringbone
                    Second horse navicular bone pretty much white color in the xrays which is (now warning I am not a vet - just an amateur horse owner) a calcification of the bone.

                    I tried different types of shoeing methods... no change.

                    I gave up, pulled shoes and put them in a 30+ acre pasture with other horses. I gave them three months on vacation then they lost too much weight and I had to bring them home. But I can say they improved with movement. (and probably the weight loss) So I watch their weight too.

                    I then put them on Previcox and they are doing pretty well. One is 19 years old and the other is 14 years old. I ride them a few times a week and they are "sound enough". They do have other arthritic issues so their show days are over but their days of having fun with their owner is not....

                    Sometimes time and movement on their own can help a lot. Good luck.

                    edited to add - I agree with Tom on the breakover. I do keep mine barefoot and with their own movement together they actually keep their feet up well. The farrier comes out and just cleans them up and comments that they don't have much to trim.

                    The other thing I did is put them in a large stall together. They move more and they are very happy that way.

                    I can say the movement has been helpful to them.
                    Live in the sunshine.
                    Swim in the sea.
                    Drink the wild air.


                    • #11
                      Gallium Nitrate - http://naviculardisease.com/ My friend has a mare with navicular disease and gallium nitrate plus proper shoeing (nothing fancy, just egg bar shoes) has the mare still riding sound AND jumping still even 8 yrs after diagnosis.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by KentuckyTBs View Post
                        Gallium Nitrate - http://naviculardisease.com/ My friend has a mare with navicular disease and gallium nitrate plus proper shoeing (nothing fancy, just egg bar shoes) has the mare still riding sound AND jumping still even 8 yrs after diagnosis.
                        Since one of the major factors that triggers, contributes to, or exacerbates Navicular Disease and/or Navicular Syndrome(which is usually more accurately described as CHPS[Caudal Hoof Pain Syndrome] ) is hyperextension of the joints and soft tissues of the lower limb and hoof, it is rather puzzling to me why anyone who has a horse with that Dx would continue to jump said horse. Further, egg bar shoes, in and of themselves, are not necessarily a CHPS palliative.

                        To the OP: All the elixirs, nostrums, ointments, whatever, are useless in the absence of proper identification of the cause(s) and without correct trimming and, as needed, shoeing. Did you ask the vet why injecting the coffin joint(surely that is what you meant rather than injecting the coffin bone, right? ) has worked, even if only partially? Further, since there are changes to the navicular bone, and since Navicular Disease is a progressive, degenerative disease, at best, you are fighting a 'holding action'. If the goal is to keep the horse as pain free as possible and the horse will not be used for much more than as a pasture ornament/light riding on 'groomed' surfaces, then a neurectomy may be one viable avenue to explore. Bear in mind that if you choose that path, the maintenance/upkeep of the horse becomes more involved/difficult and you will have only addressed the pain issue, not the cause. And, the situation will continue to deteriorate, the horse just won't feel it. At least for a while he won't. And you'll still have to make sure his feet are being trimmed/shod correctly which will probably involve the periodic use of radiographs.
                        Last edited by Rick Burten; Jan. 22, 2013, 12:16 PM. Reason: spelling correction


                        • #13
                          Tildren, among other things.


                          • Original Poster

                            Originally posted by Rick Burten View Post
                            Did you ask the vet why injecting the coffin joint(surely that is what you meant rather than injecting the coffin bone, right? ) has worked, even if only partially? Further, since there are changes to the navicular bone, and since Navicular Disease is a progressive, degenerative disease, at best, you are fighting a 'holding action'.
                            I did indeed mean the coffin bone "joint"- I've discussed this topic with so many people as of late that I'm falling victim to casual terminology!

                            What you and others have said on here really hits home with something I have always valued: quality shoeing. My horse has been somewhat of a suspect of navicular changes in the past, so he's been shod with that in mind and we've worked a lot (in small increments of course) on tweaking his breakover. I'm fortunate to have a farrier that is attentive and the vet that did his recent work-up was thrilled with the shoeing.

                            This horse, in addition to being incredibly sweet and extra-deserving of nose kisses per FineAlready's recommendation , does not jump, has great turn-out, and is kept in regular work. From what everyone has said so far, I think we're on the right track. You just always want to do more for them than what is humanly or pharmaceutically possible.


                            • #15
                              If your horse dramatically improved from coffin joint injections, it sounds like perhaps he has coffin joint arthritis causing a significant amount of pain too. Did you see any evidence of that on the xrays?

                              For the navicular bone itself, Tildren is the only drug (that I am aware of at least) that can alter the bone metabolism to help stop bone degeneration, though it is very expensive - $1200 for me for one dose... some vets are doing regional infusions which are less expensive, but my vet said the results are questionable.
                              "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse..." ~Revelation 19:11


                              • #16
                                I'm a big believer in herbs. Some good ones that seem to work for navicular are Silver Lining Herbs Feet and Bone Support, You might look into the Kidney Support from them as well. If you are looking for pain and inflamation help there is SmartPak's SmartTLC.
                                I know there is mention of EquiBone helping navicular, though I have never used it. From it's ingredients it uses minerals rather than herbs.

                                Good Luck.


                                • #17
                                  Friend of mine has a mare with navicular, she's had it for years (diagnosed as only a 5 year old I think). She could not be ridden and has had bute every day to help her with the pain. I think she's been off for about 8 years. Last year they did a round of Tildren. Amazing results! The horse has not needed any bute and she is being lightly ridden! The vet suspects she'll need a round of Tildren once a year. Expensive but they had fantastic results.


                                  • #18
                                    We've had good luck with good shoeing, navicular bursa injections, Tildren regional perfusions (lots cheaper than injecting the whole horse), and IRAP. Our plan has always been to save neurectomy/nerving as a last ditch effort. The one navicular horse is 28 now, and the other is 25. Now, their other health problems are more of an issue than their navicular disease. I don't think we would do neurectomies at this point.

                                    Our boys have fairly normal navicular x-rays, so their disease may be different from the type of navicular that you are dealing with. We have never done MRIs, but they seem to have more of a navicular bursitis than a bone problem.


                                    • #19
                                      We have had the most success with 2 degree wedge pads, and rolling the toes.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Fairview Horse Center View Post
                                        We have had the most success with 2 degree wedge pads, and rolling the toes.
                                        How do you deal with the inevitable suspensory issues that result from wedging above the natural angle?