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If you were looking to expand your knowledge of shoeing techniques and foot care, the Bluegrass Laminitis Symposium was definitely the place to be in late January.
This was the the 14th in-depth look at all aspects of laminitis concerns that was held this year in Louisville, Ky.
Alan Wilson says many equine researchers associate poor foot conformation and shoeing with mechanical overload of the navicular bone and bone remodeling. To provide answers, he and other researchers at The Royal Veterinary College in Herts, England, evaluated seven horses with forceplate and kinematic analysis before and after desensitization of the heel region with a bilateral palmar digital nerve block.
The results indicate that compressive force on the navicular bone was lower throughout the stance after the nerve was blocked. As a result, the theoretical point of weight bearing was moved toward the heels.
“These findings indicate the response to any heel pain (including pain in the navicular region) is an attempt to unload the heels by contracting the deep digital flexor muscle,” says Wilson. “This increases the compressive load on the navicular bone, causing remodeling and in some horses damage to the overlying flexor cartilage. This is painful and is identified as navicular syndrome.”
Wilson says pain in the navicular region will cause further unloading of the heels. “This mechanism explains both the chronic intractable nature of the condition and identifies navicular syndrome as a possible end point for a variety of heel-related conditions,” he says.