Recognizing the Signs of Kissing Spine in Horses
Kissing spine, also known as shared-vertebral osteopathy, is a condition that occurs when the spinous processes of two or more adjacent vertebrae in a horse’s spine come into contact and rub against each other. This can cause discomfort and pain, and if left untreated, it can lead to serious problems such as lameness, gait abnormalities, and muscle atrophy.
Diagnosing kissing spine can be challenging because the symptoms are often subtle and can be easily mistaken for other conditions. The most common signs of kissing spine are:
- Reluctance to move forward or change direction.
- Change in behavior, such as becoming more aggressive or irritable.
- Decrease in performance, such as a decrease in speed or jumping ability.
- Gait abnormalities, such as short, choppy steps or stumbling.
- Muscle atrophy, particularly in the back and hindquarters.
To confirm a diagnosis of kissing spine, your veterinarian will likely perform a physical examination and assess your horse’s gait. They may also recommend imaging tests such as radiographs (X-rays) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to get a better look at the vertebrae and identify any areas of contact.
Treatment for kissing spine typically involves reducing the inflammation and pain associated with the condition. This can be achieved through a combination of medication (such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), physiotherapy, and appropriate rest. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the excess bone growth and create more space between the vertebrae.
It’s important to work closely with your veterinarian and follow their recommended treatment plan to ensure the best possible outcome for your horse. With proper care and management, kissing spine can be managed and your horse can return to a comfortable and active lifestyle.