EQUUS - - Conversati­ons -

Back surgery is fairly com­mon in peo­ple, but in horses sur­gi­cal in­ter­ven­tion is gen­er­ally re­served for only one back-pain re­lated di­ag­no­sis: “kiss­ing” spines.

A con­di­tion in which arthritic changes or other in­juries cause the dorsal (up­right) pro­cesses of the ver­te­brae to come into con­tact with each other, kiss­ing spines usu­ally af­fects the tho­racic ver­te­brae, which are lo­cated un­der the sad­dle area. How­ever, it can be dif­fi­cult to de­ter­mine whether the bone con­tact ac­tu­ally causes pain— many horses whose x-rays show sig­nif­i­cant im­pinge­ment may never show any in­di­ca­tion of dis­com­fort. In oth­ers, the pres­sure on the bones causes lo­cal mus­cle spasms and/or pinched nerves, re­sult­ing in ex­cru­ci­at­ing pain for the horse.

A va­ri­ety of treat­ments are used to re­lieve dis­com­fort caused by kiss­ing spines, in­clud­ing anti-in­flam­ma­tory or anal­gesic in­jec­tions, shock­wave ther­apy and chi­ro­prac­tic ma­nip­u­la­tion. But in some cases surgery may be rec­om­mended. Cur­rently, there are two ba­sic types of kiss­ing spines surgery: in one, por­tions of the over­lap­ping/ im­ping­ing bone are re­moved, and in the other, called in­ter­spinous lig­a­ment desmopa­thy (ISLD), a spinal lig­a­ment is cut so that the ver­te­brae can ease apart. Both pro­ce­dures are the sub­ject of on­go­ing re­search but so far have pro­duced promis­ing re­sults.

IM­PINGE­MENT: In kiss­ing spines, por­tions of the ver­te­brae come into con­tact with each other.

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