What is Pedal Osteitis ?
Sometimes referred to as inflamed pedal bone, pedal osteitis can either be non-septic or septic. Non-septic pedal osteitis is generally associated with chronic sole bruising. This will occur when your horse is exercised on hard surfaces repeatedly. Laminitis, conformation defects or even corns can also cause non-septic pedal osteitis. Septic pedal osteitis is usually a secondary condition from a wound in the hoof. This allows for bacteria and other pathogens to invade the wound and eventually infect the pedal bone.
The result of pedal osteitis is lameness in the affected hoof. Depending on how damaged the hoof is, lameness can be relatively mild or it can be severe. The front feet are most commonly affected.
Pedal osteitis is the demineralization of the lower edge of the pedal bone due to inflammation. This can cause blood flow to change and the bone to begin thinning. It can be impossible to reverse and has symptoms very similar to navicular disease, coffin or pedal bone fracture, corns, or chronic laminitis.
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Symptoms of Pedal Osteitis in Horses
Pedal osteitis is a severe condition that affects your horse’s pedal bone or coffin bone. Once the bone is affected, it can become brittle and cause problems for your horse even when the osteitis is cleared. Should you notice any symptoms where your horse’s feet or legs are involved, contact your veterinarian for an immediate assessment.
- Unable or unwilling to extend the affected leg
- Inflammation near the pedal or coffin bone
- Pain in the foot or leg
- Puncture wound on or near the hoof
Symptoms will vary depending on the degree of injury sustained to the pedal bone and if the condition is non-septic or septic. Your veterinarian may not be able to tell you why your horse developed this condition, but they should be able to properly diagnose it and treat it.
Causes of Pedal Osteitis in Horses
Researchers have determined that pedal osteitis is primarily caused by repeated trauma to the hoof and leg from being trained or exercised on hard surfaces. Horses used for jumping or racing on packed down tracks or rings are especially prone to bruising of the sole that can cause long term inflammation and eventually lead to pedal osteitis.
Other possible causes of pedal osteitis include abscess or puncture wounds, navicular problems, infections or laminitis. Poor hoof trimming or shoeing can lead to the formation of corns and this can also cause pedal osteitis.
Diagnosis of Pedal Osteitis in Horses
Your veterinarian will begin by assessing your horse’s physical well being. This includes doing hands on physical examination. A thorough examination of the affected leg will be done to search for any puncture wounds, swelling or bruising. Your veterinarian will also conduct further testing to definitively diagnose the condition.
An ultrasound may be done on the affected leg. This is done to look for any abnormalities in the tendons and ligaments. Your veterinarian may also do an ultrasound on the unaffected leg as a point of comparison.
Radiographs will be used to identify the source of the lameness. Radiographs will also show any inflammation within the affected leg. Your veterinarian will be paying close attention to the pedal bone and any changes taking place to that bone. An MRI will be able to show any thinning of the pedal bone as well as any bruising on the sole.
Treatment of Pedal Osteitis in Horses
Once your veterinarian has diagnosed your horse as having developed pedal osteitis, a treatment plan will be set up. As your horse progresses through their treatment, stay in contact with your veterinarian and direct any questions regarding your horse’s care to your veterinarian.
Prolonged rest will be required for your horse. This may mean stall rest and lead walking for several months. Be sure that the flooring within your horse’s stall is well cushioned for their comfort. If your horse is used for work, all work will need to be stopped until your veterinarian says your horse can resume work.
Anti-inflammatory medications will also be prescribed to reduce the swelling within the affected leg and reduce the amount of damage being done to the pedal bone. Be sure to administer all of your horse’s medications as prescribed and if any side effects are noticed, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Your veterinarian may also request to work with your farrier to devise a shoeing and trimming schedule. Careful shoeing may help relieve any pressure on the sole of the hoof, therefore alleviating some of the pressure on the pedal bone. The sole of the hoof should not touch the ground when the right shoe is applied. In some instances, rubber shoes have been used instead of metal shoes.
Recovery of Pedal Osteitis in Horses
Your horse’s prognosis will be guarded. Your veterinarian will have a better idea of the recovery time for your horse once treatments have begun and they see how well your horse responds to the prescribed treatments.
Early detection of any symptoms of pedal osteitis is essential for a full recovery. Horses that are prone to developing pedal osteitis must have their feet checked regularly for bruising on the soles or any puncture wounds.
Steps can be taken to prevent pedal osteitis from developing. Having regular hoof trimmings by an experienced farrier along with proper shoeing will help alleviate pressure on the feet and legs. Cushioning your horse’s stall floor will also help your horse’s feet and legs, keeping excessive pressure from occurring.