Shana Bohac: Horse Kissing Spine Can Be Surgically Repaired |  local news

Oversteering of the dorsal spinous processes or “kissing spine” is becoming an increasingly common problem in performance horses.

Previously it was thought that this problem only occurred in dressage horses, hunters and show jumpers; However, it is also becoming a more common problem in Western performance horses. It occurs when the tops of the bones in the horse’s spine are too close together.

This problem can result in poor performance, back pain or stiffness, resistance under the saddle, traveling with your head elevated, and/or an unwillingness to bend or flex. However, many horses with kissing spine show no clinical signs at all.

The underlying cause of kissing spine is unknown.

The best way to diagnose kissing spine is with the use of X-rays. The tips of the bones can be close together or even touching. Typically, one or more spaces are involved. Your vet will also look for arthritic changes to these bones to diagnose kissing spine.

Four different grades can be identified using X-ray images. Grade 1 shows a narrow space between the spinous processes. Grade 2 shows increased density of the spinous processes. Grade 3 shows bone loss and grade 4 shows severe bone remodeling.

Medical treatment for kissing spine-related back pain may include rest, local injections of corticosteroids into the affected area, and physical therapy. Shockwave therapy has also been shown to be useful in relieving back pain. Alternative medicine can also be helpful, such as B. cold laser therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic and joint preparations. Surgery may ultimately be required and should be performed in horses presenting with severe radiographic abnormalities and significant back pain.

There are two different operations that can be performed. Surgery involves shaving the bone of the spinous process and climbing the ligaments to allow more movement of the vertebrae. The other surgical option is to just cut the ligaments between the vertebrae.

The bone shave procedure is more invasive but appears to have a higher success rate. After the operation, the horses need about two weeks rest in the stable and about 60 days rest.

A large percentage of horses that undergo the surgery make a full recovery.

dr Shana Bohac is a veterinarian and the owner of the Navarro Small Animal Clinic.