By: Dr. Lydia Gray
What is it?
Known as "overriding dorsal spinous processes" by veterinarians, the condition is a touching or "kissing" of the long thin bones that protrude upward from each vertebrae in the neck or back. Spinal processes that rub together are not only painful to the horse, they create additional lesions such as bony remodeling (arthritis) and ligament inflammation (desmitis). Signs pointing to this condition include back stiffness, reduced jumping ability, resistance to work, change of temperament, resentment of grooming or picking up the hind feet.
What can be done about it?
While some horses with "kissing spines" show back pain many do not, so diagnosis can be challenging. Once an impingement is diagnosed, a combination of rest, medical treatment and physical therapy seems to be the best approach. Medical treatment may include local injections, NSAIDs such as "bute," and mesotherapy, a pain-dampening technique that stimulates the mesoderm, or middle layer of the skin. Joint supplements that contain ingredients to support joints, tendons and ligaments, and muscle are also indicated. Options for physical therapy range from magnets and massage to acupuncture and chiropractic to swimming and shockwave therapy. Exercise should be slowly and carefully introduced.
What else do I need to know?
"Kissing spines" occur most often in young, short-backed thoroughbreds or thoroughbred-crosses that are used primarily for jumping. Show jumpers appear to be the most commonly affected. However, eventers and hunters suffer from this condition as well.
About Dr. Lydia Gray