Identifying Navicular Syndrome

Navicular syndrome is the most common cause of chronic forelimb lameness in performance horses. It is a degenerative process instigated by mechanical forces and influenced by many factors including the horse's conformation and the stresses from performance/use.

Cause for Pain

Horses suffering from navicular syndrome feel pain in the palmar, or heel, region of the foot. They show gait abnormalities associated with degenerative lesions of the navicular bone.

Clinical Signs and Diagnosis

Clinical signs associated with navicular syndrome can vary but are typically indicated by a gait change or lameness which is aggravated when walking on hard ground or trotting circles.

If you suspect your horse may have navicular syndrome, please contact your veterinarian.

Veterinarians can use a variety of diagnostic tools to test for navicular syndrome including:

  • Palpation of the foot (shows sensitivity in the frog)
  • The plank test (inter-phalangeal extension test)
  • Nerve block
  • Radiographs
  • MRI scans