For centuries, veterinarians and clinical researchers, including the farriering industry, have tried to unravel the palmar foot pain mystery. Our problem has been that palmar foot pain can include the distal Sesamoidean Bone, commonly known as navicular pain, and other related causal issues. This is why professionals are still searching for answers and constructive outcomes to treating the related issues.
Over the next few of my blogs I will try and shed more light on this issue and help my readers understand some of the complexities that should be considered when we are faced with pain in our horses’ feet.
Let’s start with where our focus should be when deciding where the pain is coming from.
Our focus should be, therefore, to try and isolate the presenting pain to the precise pathology of an anatomical segment, or an effect of pain in the associated soft tissue of that region. In other words, we should ask whether it is possible to pinpoint the source of pain, or if it is more of a syndrome. What is a syndrome?
A syndrome is categorized as a group of symptoms that consistently occur together and indicate a disease, disorder, or something abnormal. Understanding the whole story of what is transpiring internally requires an investigation of the pathology markers and neurological pain responses. Such an investigation will allow us to rectify the animal's biomechanical and neurological pain issues and maintain long-term soundness.
When we are talking about foot pain in our horse’s the farrier and veterinarian will most likely be thinking of the area around the navicular bone and could give you a diagnosis of Navicular Syndrome.
The condition of navicular syndrome is largely associated with chronic forelimb lameness in equine athletes in the prime of life and is due to pain arising from the closely related supporting apparatus in the palmar section of the equine foot, or in the navicular bone itself. It has a degenerative effect on the internal structures, with their decline being either slow, or occurring more rapidly.
When diagnosing the complaint of navicular syndrome or palmar foot pain, we first must rule out inflammation or degeneration of the navicular bone or related soft tissue structures. This is because the navicular bone acts as a fulcrum to decrease the workload of the deep digital flexor tendon and it is susceptible to loading imbalances and misalignment, and the outcome will be felt throughout the animal's body. When the symptoms of palmar foot pain keep recurring, radiographs and, if possible, CT scans should be used to rule out bone disease or bony changes of the navicular bone or other related bone structures of the distal limb, and which could be the underlying problem.
In my next blog we will go further into the findings of these finding and start to build a picture of what could be the cause of your horse palmar foot pain.