Navicular Disease: Research Needed to Better Understand

Navicular disease was first described 250 years ago, when it was called “coffin joint lameness” because the lameness came from inside the horse’s hoof.

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Navicular disease was first described 250 years ago, when it was called "coffin joint lameness" because the lameness came from inside the horse's hoof. Nearly a century later, the term "navicular joint disease" began to be used to describe the degenerative disease. Navicular affects the horse's navicular bone, the small bone in the back of the foot, as well as associated structures such as the coffin joint, the impar ligament, suspensory ligament of the navicular bone, the navicular bursa, and the deep flexor tendon.

First used to evaluate the navicular bone in the 1930s, radiographs provide important information about changes in the bone structure associated with the condition. In the 1970s, renewed interest in the investigation of navicular disease led many to believe it was actually a complex condition involving many tissues and not just the navicular bone. These conclusions led to the description of the lameness as navicular syndrome.


Navicular MRI

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Written by:

Tracy A. Turner, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, is a veterinarian with Anoka Equine Veterinary Services in Elk River, Minn. He was inducted into the International Equine Veterinarians Hall of Fame in 2004.

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