Kissing spines

Joined
4 August 2005
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2
Hi, has any had any experience of kissing spines? My mare started showing lameness whilst being ridden in walk, trot and canter are fine! She was x-rayed on her back which showed she has kissing spines, she then had a bone scan which revealed no active changes in her spine. She was given a long acting anti-inflammatory injection into her back to relieve the pain and I was instructed to lunge her daily in a 'Pessoa training aid'. 2 1/2 months and 3 injections later there is no improvement at all. The vet initially suggested an operation may be the answer. I am now thinking of an alternative approach but I really do not know where to start, any help or suggestions would be gratefully received. Thanks.
 

sqippa

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17 August 2004
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east sussex
Just had my horse diagnosed with the same thing. The changes aren't too bad but are active at the moment. His biggest problem was the muscle spasms he'd gained to compensate. Have you had a chiropractor to see her?

Mine has worked wonders just working on removing the spasm and I've had to massage him everyday and do tummy lift exercises and back and buttock stretches and the spasms have gone. He is sooooo much better now but it will be a long process rebuilding his back and tummy muscles. We didn't bother with the injections as my vet was rather sceptical about them and he is not severe enough yet for the op and fingers crossed with close monitoring he won't be.

Did you know that lots of horses have kissing spins with no problems! I thought it was a bit odd that the bone scan showed no activity yet your mare's lameness was still put down to this???

I'd get a chiropractor or equine sports massage therapist out and get them to assess her. Mine costs £50 a session and the first one she was there for 2 hours! The second just 1 hour and gave us the all clear to just crack on spasm gone!

Sqip
 

henryhorn

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23 October 2003
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Devon UK
Sorry I don't know a lot about them, although two of the liveries here have been retired due to that problem. They appear totally sound living here but wouldn't like to say what they would be like if ever ridden.
I would keep posting for info and sooner or later someone on the board will come up with the answer!
 

seabiscuit

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30 July 2005
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Hi my horse has just been diagnosed with the prob, he has bony changes, he also had hock spavin in one back leg which was making him appear lame behind at times have you had your horses back legs checked out?
Was it cortisone injections that your horse had in his back?
Mine has just had some cortisone injec in the back and hock plus shockwave treatmetn. He is going to have about 4 sessions of shockwave treatment, every 1/2 weeks and soon I will call out a chiropractor (even though my vet has advised me to have no other treatments). He has got severe spasm in the back as well, over the loin area and a very sore tummy.
As its eartly days yet I cant say much about what works. Cn you get advice from another vet cos yours sounds extremely vague about the whole thing. Sorry to say this but I wouldnt be happy with the kind of stuff he is saying and the treatment he is recommending.
 
Joined
4 August 2005
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2
Thanks for your replys, I'm not sure what the injection in her back was, only that it was a long acting pain killer that should have lasted about 8 weeks to enable her to be worked on the lunge. She no longer has any muscle spasms in her back, it is quite soft now, and she doesn't resent grooming or saddling as she did. On his last visit the vet said she had concussion in her right front heel due to us lunging her on the hard ground! (on his advice), this was done for 15 mins on alternate days. Advised to have wedges but under her shoes and not to lunge until her heel was no longer sore. She now has wedges (on for about week and a half) hasn't been lunged for about 3 weeks and still exactly the same as she was. I have seen the x-ray of her spine and the spiny protrusions are actually touching but unsure why she suddenly became lame if no changes are occuring. I have been unable to find a chiropractor at present but definately what I plan to do next. I am in Bristol area if anyone knows of one. Thanks.
 
Joined
26 August 2005
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1
Hi

I have a lot of experience of kissing spines! 4 years now! You will be pleased to hear there is a happy ending but it takes a lot of work!

I purchased my mare in May 2005, I showjumped her succesfully for a year until she started napping which became worse to the point where she reared vertically as soon as I mounted! I consulted the well known vet, Dietrich Von Schweinitz based on Surrey (luckily only 5 miles from me), he immediately diagnosed kissing spines from T14 - T18 with associated facet joint DJD, he diagnosed various treatments including physio, osteopathy, shock wave, acupuncture and a lot of lunging!!!! The saddle was also re-fitted with Flair panels (these are essential for a horse with kissing spines).

There is no miracle cure with kissing spines, it is a life long sentence and not many people I have known bother, my horse could no longer jump (well 18 inches - whats the point), it was not making her happy so we stopped, it was only when we did this that our problems reduced and started to improve). The treatment from the vet for 6 months set us on our way together with lunging (did not use a Pessoa as this stage, I used a method suggested by the physio which was simply a lunge rein through the bit on one side and then down between the legs through an old flash strap held on a roller (well padded - polypad or something) and back up to the other side of the bit, it encourages the long and low and powers up the back muscles, I did this for 10 minutes each way (and still do!) The pessoa is essential later when the horse is strong enough. I did not ride for a few months, just lunged, every day and I mean every day!, once everything was built up I jumped back on which a perfect fitting saddle, the air panels must be adjusted regularly. The horse must be trained to go properly and it must be maintained, this is easier said than done because a horse with kissing spines wants to hollow, a good instructor will help with this, I used a Harbridge training aid to keep encouraging the long and low. Keep it fun though, lots of hacking (though sneak in the request for an outline at regular intervals when the horse is going forward well). My horse was miserable for 18 months until she slowly started picking up, she is now so happy in herself, it takes a long time, even when the pain is gone to get them to accept that there is no more pain, horses have long memories. I could give you our life story and go on for hours but my biggest tips are:

1) Do not use cortisone injections - they just mask pain and make the problem worse, I use bute on the bad days (not very often now)

2) Listen to the horse, if it says no, heed the warning it hurts! I thought my mare was a madam when I bought her, she was not!

3) Do not stable the horse - keep it out all the time! Keep warm though! not difficult with the rugs on the market now.

4) Use cooling gel on the spines after working

5) I found cortaflex helped (my problem had caused DJD)

6) The exercise regime is for life, my mare works 5 - 6 days per week, 2 - 3 times lunging, 1 schooling and the rest hacking.

7) Feed from the floor, do not use haynets

8) Do carrot stretches and massage after riding.

9) Warm up carefully, I do not ask any questions for 10 - 20 minutes until everything is stretched through

10) Keep the riders weight to a minimum, my mare is 16.2 and ID x TB, she carries no more than 10 stone.

11) Take up dressage! I hated it, I've learned to love it!! Kissing spines is exacerpated by bad posture, the horse needs to move correctly if you are to have any success, my horse has the back and bottom of a Grand Prix dressage horse, they need that power.

12) Invest in good support boots for working, the legs are important now more than ever.

Horses can come back to jump with lesser problems but their is usually a height limit, basculing is a problem, it was 2 years before I could canter in an outline on a circle without tantrums - you should see her now!

She still has fun, hunting and lots of fun hacking plus our dressage and the necessary stuff, you just need a strike a balance.

I hope this helps, if you have any specific questions let me know.
 

JaneyB

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12 December 2003
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Interesting to hear what you all have to say! I will reply in two posts as my work computer gets aggitated when I post a long one!

Samfern, having gone through through this condition and surgery with my horse in the last year I am not in agreeance with all you have to say.

Kissing spines is not a life sentence, it largely depends on what action you take with your horse. Quite a high % of horses have kissing spines and live with it without concern. Some have mild cases and the anti-inflamatory injections seem to work, along with correct work, physio, correctly fitted saddle etc, you can keep the horse happy.

For some horses who have it quite bad the only option is surgery, or retire the horse. My horse was 3 when he was diagnosed! How could I retire him when he hadn't even started work? I opted for surgery. It wasn't an easy decision, but one I looked in to and spoke with a lot of different people from veterinary professions.....
 

JaneyB

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Last year he had 5 DSP's (dorsal spinous process) removed from his back, just under the saddle area. He then had two weeks box rest and then started going out in a controlled paddock for short periods a day, building up to going out full time after a month (this can change from horse to horse). We then started the lunging work after 3 months. It's quite important ot get the horse to move after the surgery otherwise the bones can fuse. Again, when you start working the horse depends on how he has recovered. I had the help and support and still do) of an excellent physio all the way through this.

Getting the muscles out of spasm is quite important. My horse had a lot of physio before his surgery and after. And even after when the surgery had gone ok, he was still in pain because his deep gluteal muslces were still in spasm....

He came back into work this year, after a lot of time and patience and re-building his confidence, he's doing well.

A saddle with flair is not the only option; in fact, my saddle fitter didn't think it would suit my horse as a lot of horses don't like the feeling of the panels and how they interact with the back. Given that we wanted to improve his confidence, not hinder it, we went for a surge lined saddle, which is nice and soft.....
 

JaneyB

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So far everything is going well, he's had two physio checks since he's been back in work and the muscles have not gone back into spasm.

I agree with what you have to say about feeding off the floor and how KS horses prefer to work hollow! I'm just in the phase of starting to have lessons to correct this!

KS horses often get secondary lameness problems, particularly in their hocks. This is because with the pain of the condition the horse transfer's his weight onto his back to avoid using his back properly. In doing so ends up with excess strain on the back legs, and it's normally the hocks which end up with the problem.

There is treatment for this, however, I think (not sure) that the horse can end up with more time off for this than treatment for the KS!

I was forunate that we caught the KS quite early and this had not occurred.
 

JaneyB

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The fact that my horse has ever let someone back on him having had his spine cut open and part of it removed will never fail to amaze me!
 
Joined
26 July 2006
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5
Hi

It was interesting to read about your horse diagnosed with kissing spines. My IDxTB mare was diagnosed with the same in the withers (no x-rays?) following her beginning to headshake. She has 6 months off before the diagnosis was given by a new vet. She has been back in work since then, we were advised to walk out flat and straight to re-build her hind muscles and fitten her now we have proceeded to trot and canter out hacking with no prob. Walk and trot r ok on a circle but canter we can barely do a half a circle in canter b4 she leaps in the air. especially on the R rein and it seems to be due to muscle built up in front and behind the saddle on her near side? We have not been advised to lunge but have started to allow her to get her own balance back and we will try your method. On the lunge right her head is markedly turned out and V crooked to ride. How did you improve your canter circles?
 

rrose

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30 November 2005
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Farnham, surrey
my mums horse had it... when she was 8 years old, and this was when they first started the oporation, and there was a big chance she would pull through and she was in soo much pain we had to put her down


At the same yard a pony had the same thing altough he had the operation and pulled through and was backed again... but sold i think not sure though. glad yours went well! wish you all the best
 

MissDeMeena

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11 January 2006
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Warwickshire
Have a horse here that i'm wonding about

just out of interest.. is it something that is quite common in ex-racehorses??
SB, i know yours is an ex-racehorse!
Will try and get him to see someone ASAP
Hope not poor chap, as he has been trying his heart out, but is obviously in pain!
 
Joined
28 November 2006
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20
Hi there,

Yes Kissing spines is quite common in racehoreses, so i hear, particularly in jumpers due to the high speed hyper-extension on landing. I have an ex-racehorse and it unfortunately looks like he may have this condition. He is off for a bone scan next week and i am staying hopeful because the prognosis differs horse to horse. I have heard of sufferers who have returned to their eventing careers after being treated for this so its not all doom and gloom, Fingers crossed anyway cos mine is such a lovely boy, i just feel guilty that its gone on for as long as it has before being sorted!!!
 
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