The Importance of Anti Inflammatory Drugs in Horse Navicular Disease
Horse Navicular Disease (HND) is one of the most common causes of lameness in the horse world, affecting around 10% of all horses over their lifetime. It most often affects the navicular bone of the foot, causing lameness that ranges from mild to severe. The condition often goes away on its own, but it can also lead to permanent lameness, or even bone fractures if left untreated. For this reason, it’s important that owners and veterinarians take HND seriously and use safe and effective methods to treat it in affected horses.
Horse navicular disease is a condition that affects the horse’s hoof and ankle. The condition is caused by an injury or trauma to the horse’s navicular bone. The navicular bone is located on the inside part of the foot, just below where your toes would be if you were wearing shoes. It functions as an attachment point for ligaments and tendons that support a horse’s weight when it puts weight on its front legs. Horses affected with this condition will experience lameness, pain and swelling in their feet, tendons and joints. It can even lead to arthritis if not treated quickly enough.
There are many causes for this condition, which can include a bacterial infection or inflammation from other sources such as arthritis or injury to other bones in the foot. When the pain becomes too much for a horse to bear, he will begin favoring his rear leg because it doesn’t have the same pressure on it. He may also refuse to put any weight on his front hoof at all and adopt an awkward stance where he is standing almost completely on his rear feet. If you notice these symptoms, take your horse to see a veterinarian right away. If left untreated, the pain could become so bad that your horse won’t be able to stand up anymore and he’ll eventually die.
Luckily there are many different drugs which may help treat the inflammation from navicular disease including; Ketoprofen, Flunixin Meglumine, Meloxicam and Dexamethasone Acetate. These medications are known as NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). They are given orally every 12 hours and can be continued for the life of the horse. The most common side effects include stomach ulcers, which can be controlled by adding omeprazole or another type of proton pump inhibitor to the drug regimen. Other potential side effects include increased risk of laminitis and damage to the kidneys. There are several other NSAIDs that can be used as alternatives, including, carprofen, etodolac, and azapropazone. In severe cases of navicular disease where there is extreme pain associated with use of the limb on weight bearing or at rest, epidural blocks may also be performed to provide temporary relief from nerve pain. You should always consult your veterinarian before giving these medications to your horse though. They will advise you on how to administer them safely and what dosage they feel is best for your horse. Your vet may also recommend other treatments such as joint supplements or deep tissue massage therapy.