The equine navicular apparatus as a premier enthesis organ: Functional implications

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Navicular syndrome has been traditionally characterized by progressive lameness with chronic degeneration of the navicular bone. Advances in imaging techniques have revealed that its associated soft tissue structures are also affected. This distribution of lesions is explained by conceptualizing the equine navicular apparatus as an enthesis organ that facilitates the dissemination of mechanical stress throughout the tissues of the foot. The navicular apparatus has the same structural adaptations to mechanical stress as the human Achilles tendon complex. These adaptations efficiently dissipate mechanical force away from the tendon's bony attachment site, thereby protecting it from failure. The comparison of these two anatomically distinct structural systems demonstrates their similar adaptations to mechanical forces, and illustrates that important functional insights can be gained from studying anatomic convergences and cross-species comparisons of function. Such a functional conceptualization of the equine navicular apparatus resolves confusion about the diagnosis of navicular syndrome and offers insights for the development of mechanically based therapies. Through comparison with the human Achilles complex, this review (1) re-conceptualizes the equine navicular apparatus as an enthesis organ in which mechanical forces are distributed throughout the structures of the organ; (2) describes the relationship between failure of the navicular enthesis organ and lesions of navicular syndrome; (3) considers the therapeutic implications of navicular enthesis organ degeneration as a form of chronic osteoarthritis; and based upon these implications (4) proposes a focus on whole body posture/motion for the development of prehabilitative and rehabilitative therapies similar to those that have already proven effective in humans.

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Veterinary surgery : VS

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