What is it?
Seedy toe is damage to the hoof wall on the epidermal side of the lamellar attachment. Imagine the lamellar attachment as two hands interlinking together via the fingers. One hand is the dermal lamellar attachment and is closest to the pedal bone. Whereas the other hand is the epidermal lamellar attachment and closest to the hoof wall.
How does it occur?
Debris likely becomes trapped in the white line and this starts to works its way up the hoof wall to the coronary band. In the healthy foot, the white line forms a tight junction. Excessive strain at the white line can cause the white line to stretch and allow debris to become trapped. Originally it was thought that micro-organisms caused seedy toe. Even though bacterial can be found in seedy toe cases, they are likely secondary to the excessive strain on the hoof wall
What causes excess stress of the white line?
Typically it is a mechanical stress. This can occur when the foot is not trimmed appropriately and the toe becomes too long. Seedy toe frequently occurs in the club foot. This is likely because there is extra tension on the deep digital flexor tendon. This adds stress to the dorsal hoof wall (i.e. wall at the toe), allowing debris to enter the white line. Seedy toe can also occur in chronic laminitis cases, however the two shouldn’t be confused
What is the difference between seedy toe and chronic laminitis?
Laminitis is the break down of the lamellar attachment. Seedy toe is debris being trapped on the hoof wall side of the lamellar attachment. This can be differentiated on an x-ray. Debris will clearly be trapped from the ground surface up the hoof wall on the hoof wall side of the dermal-epidermal line.
How can we treat seedy toe?
As we have discussed, micro-organisms are unlikely to be the primary cause of seedy toe. That being said, the area needs to be cleaned and dried. A topical anti-biotic can be applied if necessary. The mainstay for treatment is actually changing the biomechanics of the hoof and providing a healing environment for new hoof wall to grow.
Stabilise the hoof wall and load the back of the foot
In many cases of seedy toe, debris is trapped under a large percentage of the hoof wall. This may require a hoof wall resection. After the wall resection, the hoof capsule needs to be stabilised. This can be achieved by using adhesives such as Equilox or with cast material. More recently, FormaHoof, an innovative podiatry system can be utilised to stabilise the hoof wall. This reduces the chance that debris becomes trapped in the defect. FormaHoof creates a new structure to the hoof wall and encompasses the entire foot, including the sole and frog. Loading the sole and frog will shift load away from the damaged hoof wall.
If you have any further questions regarding FormaHoof or a case of Seedy Toe, please don’t hesitate to contact us.