Understanding Kissing Spine in Horses: Diagnosis, Treatment and Care

Understanding Kissing Spine in Horses: Diagnosis, Treatment, and Care

Kissing spine, scientifically known as impingement of the dorsal spinous process impingement, is a condition that affects the vertebral column in horses. It can lead to discomfort, reduced performance, and a range of clinical signs. In this article, we will explore the fundamentals of the kissing spine, discussing its diagnosis, treatment options, and the importance of comprehensive veterinary care.

I. Recognizing Kissing Spine

Kissing spine occurs when the spinous processes in a horse’s back are too close together or even overlap, leading to impingement and pain. Dr. Andrew Smith, DVM, PhD, DACVS-LA, CVMMP, at Peterson Smith Equine Hospital + Complete Care emphasizes, “Kissing spine can present with subtle signs like reluctance to engage the hindquarters, a shortened stride, or resistance during ridden or violent signs such as bucking, rearing, or kneeling out.”

II. Diagnostic Approaches

Accurate diagnosis is paramount in addressing kissing spine effectively. Veterinarians employ a combination of physical examinations, diagnostic imaging, and, if necessary, advanced techniques like scintigraphy or MRI scans. Dr. Smith further explains, “Combining imaging, clinical signs and with improvement with either treatment or diagnostic anesthesia, blocking or treating the area.”

III. Treatment Modalities

Conservative Management: This approach involves a combination of rest, physiotherapy, and specific exercise regimens. “Conservative management can be highly effective, especially in cases where the condition is less severe or is not reacting violently,” advises Dr. Smith.

Medical Interventions: Localized objections and systemic therapies play a pivotal role in alleviating discomfort associated with kissing spine. These interventions aim to enhance the horse’s comfort and facilitate rehabilitation.

Surgical Intervention: In severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary. Dr. Andrew Smith emphasizes, “Surgery is typically considered when conservative methods don’t yield prolonged results or the horse’s behavior is unsafe to attempt medical treatment. Procedures like a subtotal ostectomy or interspinous ligament desmotomy can provide significant relief.”

IV. Rehabilitation and Aftercare

Following treatment, a structured rehabilitation program is essential to ensure a successful recovery. This may include tailored exercise routines, physiotherapy, and ongoing monitoring by a veterinary professional. “Collaboration between veterinarians, trainers, and caretakers is crucial for the horse’s return to optimal performance,” advises Dr. Smith.

Understanding and addressing kissing spine requires a comprehensive approach, from accurate diagnosis to tailored treatment and attentive aftercare. Dr. Smith’s expertise highlights the importance of early recognition and advanced diagnostic techniques. By combining conservative methods, medical interventions, and surgical options, horses afflicted with kissing spine can find relief and return to their full potential. Through diligent rehabilitation and collaborative effort, equine professionals can pave the way for a successful recovery and a bright future for these remarkable animals.

Peterson Smith Equine Hospital
4747 SW 60th Ave, Ocala, FL 34474
Phone: 352.237.6151 | Fax: 352.237.0629

Mon - Fri: 7:30am - 5:30pm
Saturday: 7:30am - 12:00pm
Closed on Sunday

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Peterson Smith Advanced Fertility Center
15107 SE 47th Ave, Summerfield, FL 34491
Phone: 352.307.3000 | Fax: 754.799.4482

Mon - Fri: 8:00am - 4:30pm
Saturday: 8:00am - 12:00pm
Closed on Sunday

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