This section lists medications that have been used to treat navicular disease, all of these should be used only with the recommendation and guidance from your veterinarian.
Phenylbutazone (Bute) is an NSAID (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) which is often used to temporarily relieve pain while giving time for other treatments to work. Bute should not be used long term as it can lead to ulcers and other digestive problems.
Isoxsuprine is a drug that dilates blood vessels allowing more circulation to the foot. It has been effective for some horses, although other treatments are more often used these days. Isoxsuprine does have side effects so should be used with caution. Personal Note: When my horse first came up lame we tried this drug for about a month and saw no improvement.
Tilduronate (Tildren) is an osteoporosis drug that has been used mostly in Europe to stop the degeneration of the navicular bone. There has been some success with this drug especially with horses in early stages of navicular disease. This drug must be administered by a veterinarian intravenously and can be quite expensive. There are reports on horse forums suggesting that this treatment may be linked to fractures, there are similar reports of fractures in women who have been on other osteoporosis drugs. This link is not certain but is has been suggested that these drugs inhibit normal breakdown and remodeling of bone that happens as a result of stress, therefore the bone may be gradually weakened.
Corticosteroids can be injected directly into the navicular bursa to relieve inflammation for several months. This procedure is discussed on its own page. Personal Note: I have used this procedure with success on my horse.
Adequan or hyaluronic acid can also be injected into the joint, this is generally used for arthritic conditions. A 2009 study by Bell, et al found little benefit from injecting this drug in the navicular bursa.
Equi-bone: The makers of Equi-bone claim that this supplement provides minerals and vitamins that improve circulation and facilitate optimal blood chemistry to support healthy bone remodeling and reduce mineral loss from bone. The manufacturers recommend a loading period of 5-7 months, during which you feed double the maintenance amount. You can go to the maintenance dosage sooner than that if you see significant improvement. Below is the list of ingredients from the TLC website for the pellet version. The powder form is the same with the exception that it does not have MSM or Glucosamine. I am giving Bo the powder form. Equi-bone is more expensive than your usual supplement, but if it works as the makers claim it will be worth the price.
Equi-Bone Pellet Ingredients: Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Proteinate, Magnesium Proteinate, Potassium Chloride, Potassium Amino Acid Complex, Yeast Culture, Glucosamine Hcl, Methyl Sulfonyl Methane, Salt, Dehydrated Forage Products, Iron Proteinate, Vitamin B-12, Copper Proteinate, Choline Chloride, Zinc Proteinate, Niacin, Potassium Sulphate, Calcium Pantothenate, Cane Molasses, Inositol, Linseed Meal, l-Lysine, dl-Methionine, l-Aspartic Acid, l-Arginine, Dried Aspergillus Oryzae Fermentation Extract, Wheat Bran, Wheat Middlings, Tocopherol (Source of Vitamin E), Biotin, Sodium Selenite, p-Aminobenzoic Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin K, Cobalt Proteinate, Flavoring, Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide, Pyridixoine HCl, Folic Acid, Thiamin, Manganese Proteinate, Vitamin A, Riboflavin, Soybean Oil
*Equi-Bone Powder does not have Glucosamine or MSM added
Cosequin ® is a supplement usually used for joint pain in horses. A 2001 study in Veterinary Therapeutics (sponsored by the makers of Cosequin ®) found some short term pain relief when horses with navicluar disease were given the supplement every day for 8 weeks. There was no change in the radiographs of the feet of the horses in the study. This is too short a study to determine the long term effects. PERSONAL NOTE: I gave my navicular horse this supplement for 3 months and did not see any effect on his pain. But your results may vary.
Duralactin (Microlactin) is a milk-based protein which has shown effective in relieving inflammation. A 2005 study, though poorly written, seemed to show improvement in 90% of the horses with “Foot & Joint pain” in the study after 28 days on Duralactin. A similar 2009 study did not specifically include navicular horses but found the an 86% success rate with duralactin on other types of joint pain. PERSONAL NOTE: I am giving this supplement to my horse. He was pain free for 6 months on it when he got too frisky and tore his DDFT which ended my “scientific” test. I am still giving it to him, hoping it will help with his recovery. Read about Bo’s Story.