Buttress foot is a condition that occurs in some horses, leaving them lame for a period. Also called pyramidal disease, buttress foot causes pain and swelling in the front of the coronary band -- the part of the leg where the hoof growth begins.. Also, horses who suffer from this stand differently than they normally would, indicating that they are experiencing a great deal of pain in their foot or leg.
Recognizing and treating buttress foot is important, as it can change the shape of the foot over time and cause your horse a great deal of undue stress and pain.
Symptoms and Types
Some signs to look out for include:
- Mild to moderate lameness
- Difficulty standing (e.g., toe barely touching the ground)
- Heat/warm sensation in the back of the foot
- Swelling (i.e., inflammation of the coronary band)
Buttress foot is caused by a variety of reasons; among them:
- Excessive strain or exercise
- New bone formation
- Soft tissue swelling
- Strain of the tendon in the front of the leg
With a close examination of the foot, a veterinarian should be able to easily diagnose buttress foot. This is because as the disease worsens, the shape of the foot changes significantly and becomes more narrow and square. In many cases, pieces of the bone may fracture and chip away, causing a great deal of pain.
Depending on the extent of the disease, your veterinarian may recommend complete rest and isolation for up to three months. Fractured bone pieces may be removed by cutting a small hole in the side of the hoof and extracting them. Larger bone fractures are sometimes pinned into place, but only if possible.
Living and Management
Some horses will never fully recover from buttress foot. Once the bone has begun to fracture and chip, your horse may have reached a stage where it is irreversible. For this reason, complete rest is of the utmost importance. It gives the horse a chance to rest and for the bone to begin to fully heal and restore itself.