Investigating Palmar Foot Pain

“We have two papers that will be published this year comparing horses without radiographic changes that were diagnosed by MRI with damage in the heel region,” says Sarah Sampson, DVM, of Washington State University.

“We looked at 72 horses with clinical signs (of palmar foot pain) that have become lame within the last six months. In the second paper we compared the lesions we found in those horses (with recent onset) with a group of 90 horses with chronic navicular syndrome that had been lame for more than six months (and often many years). From these cases we’ve been able to gather information on prevalence of structures injured and can use this for ideas regarding new treatments for horses with specific problems.

“We also are trying to find out if resting some of these horses is worthwhile, and to see which injuries do respond to rest and which do not—and which horses do better with injections of steroids and hyaluronic acid—so we can give more specific recommendations to horse owners,” says Sampson.

About the Author

Heather Smith Thomas

Heather Smith Thomas ranches with her husband near Salmon, Idaho, raising cattle and a few horses. She has a B.A. in English and history from University of Puget Sound (1966). She has raised and trained horses for 50 years, and has been writing freelance articles and books nearly that long, publishing 20 books and more than 9,000 articles for horse and livestock publications. Some of her books include Understanding Equine Hoof Care, The Horse Conformation Handbook, Care and Management of Horses, Storey's Guide to Raising Horses and Storey's Guide to Training Horses. Besides having her own blog,, she writes a biweekly blog at that comes out on Tuesdays.

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