Specific Research Needed To Understand Navicular Disease

Additional research is needed to fully understand navicular disease and injuries to the structures involved with these situations, maintains Tracy Turner.

The equine veterinarian at Anoka Equine Veterinary Services in Elk River, Minn., believes more research dollars are needed to investigate the effects of trimming on the growth of the hoof capsule, the effects of shoeing on the growth and physiology of the hoof capsule and how limb and hoof conformation is related to the biomechanics of the foot and navicular bone. He also says studies to define how footing and type of performance affect navicular-associated structure are needed.

Turner says the first steps in developing a logical approach to the treatment of navicular disease are being able to make an accurate measurement of the pain and a careful evaluation of the hoof structures that may predispose it to the condition or cause of the pain. “Treatment should be based on the type of and location of the disease,” says Turner. “Shoeing should be the basis of all treatments and any medicinal or surgical therapy should be used as an adjunct to shoeing.”

To prevent navicular disease, Turner says consistent care from a farrier is essential to keep the hoof in good condition and to address imbalance issues. “Hoof care is also the area that needs the most research,” he says. “At this point, clinical evidence of the effects of trimming and shoeing on soundness are largely empirical or the result of trial and error.”

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