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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr. 6, 2008
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    Lancaster, PA
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    Default kissing spines? violent reactions?

    Does anyone have experience with kissing spines? My horse has 3 vertabrae that are touching. He was just injected in the joints and is now on paddock rest and will start back to work (long lining to build strength and then slow work under saddle etc.) next week.

    He has had severe reactions at times - obviously pain reactions. The last time was from a stand still, moved slightly and exploded, back up, bucking, etc.

    I have to say that I am nervous about getting back on. How reliable are the injections? He is also now recieving accupuncture weekly.

    Four vets (including my vet that injected him and the accupuncture vet) all say that the kissing spines may not be the issue. However, now one can tell me what else his issue might be.

    His saddle fits well and has been checked by a saddle fitter.

    He is 8 yrs old, only raced 4 times, never in hard work, training level dressage and very limited jumping. This problem started one year ago. It has been a long road that is probably not over.

    Other problems include Lyme disease (on week 6 of Doxy), treated for mild ulcers and will be treated again (14 days of GastroGard, etc,), weak stifles and front rt. coffin joint injected also.

    Any ideas? I am open to most anything at this point.



  2. #2
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    Oct. 11, 2002
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    Colorado
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    Eight yers is a little old for the kissing spines to be the whole problem. His spines have been at mature growth size for several years, and this problem should have shown up as gradually increasing from the first time he was ridden to now. However, he may have done something like a fall in the pasture, or getting cast badly to make the pain worse. Stifle pain can also cause reactions you describe.

    I had a mare that was 'NQR' in her back when started under saddle at 2 and progressed to unridable at 4 - major twisting and hollowing - I quit before it progressed to bucking. Her tell-tale symptom of Kissing Spines was twisting her neck around to the side and holding it there after stopping on the longe line or after backing. Shock wave helped her only slightly .

    Surgery to reduce the center of 3 touching spines totally fixed her. That could cost about $2500. today, and New Bolton may have done some. But, that was her only problem. I have at least $10,000. in this mare for all the unneccessary things done before the KS was found (these days vets look for KS).

    You need to decide if a money pit horse is doable for you, whether you have 3-4 years to, one by one, fix all the possibe problems, or to give up and pay pasture board for a retired gelding - cheaper in the end. I would not try to ride a horse like yours unless it was totally pain free, as explosive bucking caused by pain can really get you hurt (but I am old now). I have been in your shoes and it is not fun.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul. 24, 2004
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    2,607

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    My now 9-year old OTTB mare was diagnosed w/ KS last fall. I took her in for a full lameness workup at a great equine clinic as something wasn't quite right. She has never been lame in the five years I've owned her but she started refusing fences, tossing her head around, struggled to pick up the canter, etc. Once we saw the films of her back you could clearly see the problem - she has three vertebrae that are just about touching. We tried injections, muscle relaxants, time off, etc. but I saw no change in her. The last time I rode her she just about fell over when I got on - that clearly told me something was wrong. She never had a violent reaction like your horse but i'm not riding her anymore - she is my pasture pet and that's all. I can't in good conscience ask her to work again. It hurts her back when someone is on her and she's too sweet of a horse to ask her to put up with it. She's got a forever home w/ me as does my 28-year old TB (also a pasture pet) so she never has to worry about someone riding her again.
    "When a horse greets you with a nicker & regards you with a large & liquid eye, the question of where you want to be & what you want to do has been answered." CANTER New England



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct. 18, 2000
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    22,422

    Default

    I'm sorry to learn of your troubles.

    I'm not overly experienced with this condition in horses; but the description of your horse's pain reaction reminded me of something.

    With the full understanding that one cannot compare human back trouble to equine back trouble, I might suggest that the "explosive" reaction might be from nerve impingement. I don't think that sort of thing appears on xray;s though compression can be seen which can help narrow the search area.

    Anyway, I can tell you from experience that if a certain movement or pressure "hits" the nerve - the pain can knock you flat out on the ground; it can be agony. I have no doubt a horse has a similar perception.

    I'm not a vet or even a vet tech so I don't know what sort of tests to ask for. But perhaps this is something you could bring up with your vet.

    Another thing to ask about is if the explosive pain reaction could be from the right front; you mentioned the horse had the coffin joint injected. So perhaps that could be an area that warrants closer examination.

    I hope the horse feels better soon and you two can get back to enjoying your time with each other.



    Quote Originally Posted by foxford View Post
    Does anyone have experience with kissing spines? My horse has 3 vertabrae that are touching. He was just injected in the joints and is now on paddock rest and will start back to work (long lining to build strength and then slow work under saddle etc.) next week.

    He has had severe reactions at times - obviously pain reactions. The last time was from a stand still, moved slightly and exploded, back up, bucking, etc.

    I have to say that I am nervous about getting back on. How reliable are the injections? He is also now recieving accupuncture weekly.

    Four vets (including my vet that injected him and the accupuncture vet) all say that the kissing spines may not be the issue. However, now one can tell me what else his issue might be.

    His saddle fits well and has been checked by a saddle fitter.

    He is 8 yrs old, only raced 4 times, never in hard work, training level dressage and very limited jumping. This problem started one year ago. It has been a long road that is probably not over.

    Other problems include Lyme disease (on week 6 of Doxy), treated for mild ulcers and will be treated again (14 days of GastroGard, etc,), weak stifles and front rt. coffin joint injected also.

    Any ideas? I am open to most anything at this point.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul. 25, 2003
    Location
    Boston Area
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    8,252

    Default

    I had a friend with a 4 yr old OTTB. He exhibited very explosive behavior -- bucking, rearing, etc.

    Eventually he was diagnosed with kissing spines and had his back injected. My understanding from her is that it has made a very significant difference in his behavior.
    Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
    EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb. 28, 2001
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    15,232

    Default

    The problem I see is injecting does not solve the problem-the spine is still touching and irritating itself.

    The injections just mask the pain allowing further damage to be done.

    That worries me a bit in a back.

    And I have a 10yo TB with two places in his spine that are almost touching.

    He has been on/off lame miserable then sound then beyond miserable since he was 4yo.

    I bought this book (among others) that talks about KS:

    http://www.amazon.com/Straightening-.../dp/1570763763

    Evidently they have a rehab center in germany and have had good success teaching a horse to move biomechanically correct.

    I have tried this program but the horse was already inflamed. He has had about 9 months off now and I may give it one more try.

    Personally, my head says bad spine? Pasture horse.

    My heart keeps wanting to fix it.



  7. #7
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    Sep. 29, 2004
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    The Cold Cold north
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    I'll throw in my experience, N=1

    My then-6yo TB was diagnosed last year with kissing spines (not impinged, but close) in one location, and tight spaces in between a couple more.
    He'd been increasingly agitated as we'd been progressing with our dressage work and been asking him to use himself more - thought initially it was a training problem, as he had no issues jumping, but vet diagnosed it as kissing spines.

    He was injected and put on Robaxin for a few months - it has made a WORLD of difference. The vet did emphasize the need to keep him fit and do long and low work, which we have been. But he has progressed more in the past six months than he had in two years of training, so it's worked for us. I'm eternally grateful to my trainer, who first suspected the issue.

    He'll need to be injected annually per the vet, which is pricey, but
    we'll stick to that as long as it works. Just wanted to throw in a success story... good luck!
    "This thing we call 'failure' is not the falling down, but the staying down" - Mary Pickford



  8. #8
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    Apr. 6, 2008
    Location
    Lancaster, PA
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    Default

    Thanks everyone. I really appreciate the input. A little depressing (ok, a lot depressing), but there are a few positive stories.

    I will continue with treatments... however, I have to make a decision before I spend too much more money or break my neck. I certainly could have had a nice warmblood for the $$ put into my ottb. But, a horse is a commitment and I am committed.

    Well, maybe I should be committed....



  9. #9
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    Apr. 6, 2004
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    Elkton
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    Default

    Jay has kissing spine. Pretty badly actually, his verts were too close together to even inject. He was treated at VA Equine Imig. They did IV Tildren (I know there's a person on this board who is REALLY against Tildren but it really helped him) Shock wave treatments, and winstrol to keep his top line strong.

    Jay came off the track and was doing great (BN eventing) got really sick (bad colic-had to go to VA large animal hospital) and when I was bring him back into work I realized he just wasn't the same. He would take off with me, refused jumps, and eventually bucked me off and broke my back.

    I gave him almost a year off with 24/7 turn out and just lunging and then slowly brought him back into work. He's doing great now and will continue to have shock wave treatments if I feel he's getting stiff again. He does stay on 24 hour turn out because he keeps him from getting stiff. He also cribbs and has ulcers so its better for him anyway.

    I'll prolly never ask him to do "big" eventing or even dressage, but he's come a long way from that crazy horse who I couldn't even trot with out him feeling like he was going to explode out from under me.

    edited to add: I was also told by a couple of vets that the surgery isn't done anymore and can acutally cause more harm than good.



  10. #10
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    Oct. 11, 2002
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    Colorado
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    I opted for the KS surgery on my mare because she was in so much pain she never could have carried a foal and, not knowing the future, if I would or could keep her forever or not, someone might breed her. Neither my vet nor the CSU head surgeon Dr. Trotter (now retired), who actually did the surgery as a guest at her clinic, had ever done one before. (Some vet in the UK does hundreds of KS surgeries, but I think that is strange...) It was a table surgery and she came home late that afternoon with a wad of cotton sutured on her spine. I did not watch, but I was told he basically crunched down the center spine with pliers - she had 3 touching. It was several years ago - I think it was some stall rest and then gradually increasing small corral turnout. I cannot remember how long she was restricted, but the first time I let her trot on the longe, it was miraculous - pain was gone, she trotted freely, and truly she was soo painful before she could not even trot on the longe. After 3 months you could push all you wanted on the incision spot with no reaction.

    My vet and Dr. Trotter are very, very good. My vet was inspired to mark the spot with a BB and take x-rays until the BB was over the center spine to be reduced, then inject dye under the skin. When mare was on the table, the surface-marked incision spot was off a bit, and the dye prevented a mistake.

    For others here, I would not rule out KS surgery if your horse needs it, and you have a good, smart surgeon available.



  11. #11
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    Apr. 6, 2008
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    Lancaster, PA
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    I am so sorry to hear about so many similar problems. This is a really tough thing to deal with.

    You have all really helped me. The varying information and results are really helpful.

    I will be getting a second opinion and continueing with current treatments. My vets have also said that kissing spines may or may not be an issue. None seem to really believe that horses have serious issues from them. But after seeing his x-ray, how can that not be painful? Plus, the reactions I have been victim to make me know that there is some serious pain somewhere.

    Thanks everyone.



  12. #12
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    Aug. 30, 2006
    Location
    Williamston, NC
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roney View Post
    I'll throw in my experience, N=1

    The vet did emphasize the need to keep him fit and do long and low work, which we have been. But he has progressed more in the past six months than he had in two years of training, so it's worked for us.

    I have taken in two OTTBs off the giveaway board that had been diagnosed with kissing spines. Both are in work. One is doing very well, and the other is progressing. I have learned that these horses often also have SI issues as well as back issues. I have a multi-faceted rehab program which includes robaxin if needed, chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, saddle fit, therapeutic saddle pad although this is questionable, stretching, belly lifts but be careful if they are sore they can get very upset with this, dental work, and farrier work. If one thing is out it affects their backs. I work all the horses long and low, with slight contact, and ride them in a light seat instead of a dressage seat. Both horses are much more comfortable in a close contact saddle than dressage saddle. I've found that jumping actually seems to help alleviate some of the discomfort -- perhaps it provides a stretch that's hard to get any other way. Building that topline takes time, time, time. We can go a long time with no pain on one gelding, but then we hit a cycle and it's frustrating. This last pain cycle developed when I started riding him more in a dressage seat. As long as he's ridden like a hunter and things are kept in balance he is able to work and enjoys it. He's currently showing the long stirrup division with my daughter.

    The other gelding isn't progressing as fast and I believe he's had much more concussive type injuries through the stifles/gaskins than the other horse. When I palpate his back I can actually feel a group of vertebrae that are raised. Thankfully this is just past where the saddle sits. Acupunture works well for him.

    Neither horse can be ridden 5 days straight. I find that they do well with 3 days riding or long lines (no longeing on circles for these guys b/c of SI involvement) and then a couple days off. The first day back is purely stretching, hacking around the farm, lots and lots of walking, and lateral bending. They are just getting the idea of longitudinal bending.

    My vet explained that kissing spines is a very controversial diagnosis and many vets do not recognize the diagnosis. She is uncertain but feels that it is a reversible condition for most horses. I'm still learning.



  13. #13
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    Oct. 11, 2002
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    "My vet explained that kissing spines is a very controversial diagnosis and many vets do not recognize the diagnosis."

    It seems my mare was much worse than the other horses described here. After her surgery, the surgeon said he saw lots of degenerative tissue between the spines, and said that he was sure that she was indeed in a lot of pain from the KS.

    This mare was hard to diagnose because, yes, kissing spines cause the horse to travel twisted and effect lots of other problems all over the horse. She had, front to back: medium lameness in her right front (which turned out to be shoulder muscle rigiditiy from twisting, but resulted in a check ligament surgery because her ligaments had shortened very slightly), soreness in withers and under saddle (did not jump out as significant at the time), soreness in loin area, rigidity in hipbone-loin-sacrum triangle (better for two weeks after each chiro adjustment), and most glaring, pain and slipping in her stifle, which is where all the focus was as she was very lame in left stifle (from her whole body twist). Multiple X-rays and ultrasounds showed nothing wrong with the stifle, but she got a Cunean Tenectomy surgery for her hocks at same time as check ligament surgery (big discount as a two-fer so I went for it), as there were slight changes in hocks, and vet was really reaching for causes of lameness. Along the way I also had her thermographed, which found nothing on her, but my sore arm showed up like a headlight.

    Her tail seemed to have no problems

    Finally my vet said she wanted to X-ray her back, which had showed no more pain than everywhere else at the time. I would have saved big bucks if I was going through all this today when KS is on every vet's radar. I only did all this because this mare had posessed the kindest disposition when young, but turned into a dangerous witch, and I totally believed her that there was real pain somewhere.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  14. #14
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    Nov. 2, 2003
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    area II
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    A friend of mine bought a ottb a couple of years ago. She started having major problems w/him jumping. He would rush, land and bolt. Long story short, he was diagnosed w/KS a couple of months ago. His back was injected. He is doing great w/flat work but jumping is a little iffy right now. She also has had a chiro and acupuncture done on him. She has him on arnica as well. Also was told to get and keep his hind end very strong.
    Good luck!



  15. #15
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    Jan. 8, 2008
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    At this point in time, my vet seems to think my horse doesn't have kissing spine but he exhibits all the classic symptoms and then some. I have a 4 yr old Hanoverian that came to me with what looked like a roach spine. When started under saddle as a 3 yr old, he looked a little off.. not really tracking up with the left hind. Sometimes he would hop and try to catch up.. So, gave him the fall/winter off to grow up.. OK, long story short, after several manipulations by a vet/chiropractor, hock x-rays by a vet who was certain it was hock problems? hmmm... I sent him to a large vet. teaching college to be evaluated. He had lumbar x-rays, ultrasound as well as a bone scan. They all showed a hot disc as well as calcification in some of the others. He was injected in that disc and sent home for pasture rest for one month.. I started to lunge him lightly and finally got on just to see what would happen..At first he looked fine on the lunge but then I saw the same signs as before.. Going left, tilting of the head, wanting to stretch down, some hip hop on the left hind.. Just plain discomfort. I then got on him with a custom saddle made not to sit to far back on his back. He wouldn't go forward, bulked, backed and basically did everything he could not to move.. He is such a good natured horse so these are not typical baby evasions.. He is a tryer and wants to please. When asked to trot he wanted to stretch and then he would invert. I got off and now feel like everyone else... some what defeated. I have made him an appt at OSU as they actually let me talk to a surgeon and assured me they would have surgery and medicine involved from the get go. At this point I honestly feel he has nerve issues. I know this post was about kissing spine but honestly, so many of the symptoms are the same. Has anyone ever had a horse with lumbar spine pinched nerve? What is the prognosis? Guess I will find this all out and more although I dread it.
    thanks



  16. #16
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    Oct. 11, 2002
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    blackhorse6, as I am the queen of injured, rehabilitating horses, I can give you some exprience. A gelding I own had a rib out of place (as chiro later found), and he set back violently when standing saddled and tied after startling and puffing up. He broke the snap and crashed, breaking over his ishium bone extension on his pelvis. Got that healed, but he was never right, would stop whenever he got the chance, and would start swatting his tail down to his hocks about a minute after I got off him. I came to the conclusion he had sciatica. Vet/chiro believed me, did careful palpations of rear end and found the cocxxyx (sp?) bone jammed and twisted up against the sacrum bone, probably pinching a nerve. 2 Shock Wave tretments and lots of tail pulling have made a world of diffrence.

    So I would say it is entirely possible for horses to have a pinched nerve, but a jammed and calcified vertebrae in lumbar area can also give trouble that chiro and accupuncure cannot solve. I always go for shock wave if simple chiro does not totally resolve an issue.



  17. #17
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    Jan. 8, 2008
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    Thanks Plumcreek
    He does hold his tail out more than he should when going forward and to the left side. I too have said I thought he had sciatica(I have it and know how much it affects movement) His left leg is only affected and he doesn't want to bend going to the left...also the vertibre and calcification. I have no idea what kind of accident this horse had before I purchased him or when it happened. It would not have shown up until put undersaddle and he had pressure put on the spine/back. I will bring all these possibilities to OSU in hopes something can be done for him.. I do know they did not do a bonescan of the ribs.Maybe one is out of place? Could be so many things...if only they could talk!!



  18. #18
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    Oct. 11, 2002
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    [QUOTE=blackhorse6;3131806]Thanks Plumcreek
    He does hold his tail out more than he should when going forward and to the left side. QUOTE]

    Yes! The tail held out while trotting and cantering was one of my main clues, because I know how this horse held his tail before he crashed.

    My horse probably needs one more shock wave treatment to be good enough to show. I plan to be pulling on his tail during shocks, which vet thinks is a good idea.



  19. #19
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    Jan. 8, 2008
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    Thanks again Plumcreek... I am armed and ready to face the vets at OSU. I have so many ideas of what may be going on with my horse. If only it is just what you stated. Yes, he holds his tail up more than he should..Usually, so I thought, when a horse had a back injury or was sore, you would see the tail go between their legs.. Not my horse.. He holds it up and out away from his body. To much so. It just has to be a nerve as I weigh less than 100lbs so it can't be to much weight...He is 16'3 and a big boy.. Seems any weight at all is totally debilitating to him. I will keep you posted since you have been a big help.. Thanks!!



  20. #20
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    Apr. 6, 2008
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    Hey, balckhorse, keep us all posted. I am very interested as well. This has been been a great thread for me - I have learned a lot.

    NC Sue, your story was helpful too. This might be obvious, but it is not hitting me. What are SI issues?

    Plumcreek, your mare sounds a lot like my guy before he got violent with me. I remember in the good days I was always trying to correct his haunches in the canter. He always carried them to the inside on the left lead. Also, lameness in the front right and stifle issues in the back left. The vet was sure that the stifle is/was the problem (since they still don't believe entirely in the ks). Wow.

    Thanks everyone. Good luck. We all need to win the lottery!



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