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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan. 10, 2010
    Location
    Prince Edward Island, Canada
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    268

    Question Injections in the back for arthritis? Do they work??????

    I have been having a soundness problem with my mare for the past four years (she had been perfectly sound for the first 7 years of riding). The first vet that saw her told me she was fine and to just ride her. So I did that for 6 very frustrating months with no improvement and them gave her the winter off. She wasn't head bobbing lame - just lacking engagement in trot and canter, and swapping out her left lead in behind, and occasionally slipping in the left hind leg.

    That next spring I went to an equine specialist vet and she was convinced it was in the front feet (I was sceptical) - after the rads, thermographs and ultra-sounds were done and nothing showed up in the front feet they came back with the diagnosis of "maybe navicular". So we tried shoes and pads = no change, then bute = still no change.

    Eventually I did become able to make her hold the correct lead behind, but through some pretty elaborate aids on my part - but she still swapped out on other people. Last year she started out the spring much better, but then halfway through the summer she went downhill fast so I got vet #3 to come out and x-ray her hocks. They found nothing.

    So now this year she is even worst - she is now refusing to even canter in either direction under saddle and when she trots there is no engagement behind (her hind end almost looks uncoordinated with her front end). She can canter on the lunge but it is an effort for her and she really pops up in front for the transition to canter.

    So 2 weeks ago I had out vet number 4 who specializes in animal osteopathy and chiropractics. After seeing her lunged and ridden he said it was definitely in the body "somewhere". When he checked he over for pain he didn't find any glaring spots of pain. He did adjust her - and he did find some minor pain in the ribs and on her back just in front of the loin. He said if the adjustment didn't improve her way of going (which it did not) then his suggestion is that it may be arthitis in the back (just in front of the loin area). He said it is an expensive area to X-rays so his suggestion was to just inject the back joint and see if it improves her movement.

    Thoughts? Has anyone had any success with back injections? Is it time to consider cutting my losses? I have been effectively benched from riding for the past 4 years. I started riding a students horse this month and I realized how much I missed riding (I mean really riding - not the trail riding and the constant disappointing & frustrating sessions with my gimpy mare). I am feeling really beat down - it seems like I have had 4 years of constant stress over my mare. I can't afford to keep two performance horses for myself so as long as I have her I can't have another. I can't even use her for lessons because she can not canter and she is not beginner safe - not a lot of call for an advance lesson horse who can't canter. I had hoped to get a foal out of her to replace her (eventually) - but obviously that is not going to be an option now for fear of passing on the same issues to her foal.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan. 16, 2002
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    West Coast of Michigan
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    Default

    There are a LOT of moving parts in the "back" . . . would a bone scan, perhaps, allow your vet to pinpoint some areas where the "smart bomb" type of therapy that steroid injections provide would do the most good?

    The vet who looked at my horse when he was NQR is sort of a spine/neuro specialist and he insisted on the bone scan first but followed that up with ultrasound and X-rays (neck, mostly). It did shed light on the problem and although we used oral steroids and not injectable we were able to get the horse right.

    Would a short, intense course of oral steroids help the vet (and you) see if the horse might improve? Steroids can make an awful lot of things feel better and can be useful (although they are not without risk!) as an empirical trial.
    Click here before you buy.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun. 20, 2012
    Posts
    748

    Default

    My previous horse was diagnosed with severe arthritis on his fetlock ligament when he was 12. We spent a hole year injecting him there and put him on permanent turn out, but still he would constantly be lame.

    Finally, after a lot of crying on my part, we decided to call an expert on arthritis to my horse. He decided he would inject his sacro-iliac area and hocks.

    The horse went on to be sold to a person who does horse shows with him, and hasn't had any soundness issues for 2 years.

    Based on my experience, I absolutely recommend it.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul. 22, 2007
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    809

    Default

    Back pain in the loin area goes with ouchy hocks and/or stifles. I wouldn't jump to back pain right away, especially since nobody has done anything to either the hocks or stifles. Just because the hocks had clean x-rays, does not mean there isn't synovitis, or general painful inflammation.

    Swapping the lead, not holding the lead, lacking engagement all scream hock pain to me. Which, if left long enough, become stifle AND back pain. The stifles and lower back end up very sore from trying to compensate and do the hocks job.

    Have you done any Adequan or Legend? Has ANYBODY said anything about injecting the hocks? I would find a vet that has good experience with this, and have the hocks done.
    "On the back of a horse I felt whole, complete, connected to that vital place in the center of me...and the chaos within me found balance."



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar. 8, 2004
    Location
    Baltimore, MD
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    19,871

    Default

    The specialist narrowed it down to being in the body "somewhere?" Wow, that is helpful. I think you need yet another opinion. I don't think it is wise to just start injecting things randomly.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr. 29, 2006
    Location
    Evansville, Wisconsin
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    3,081

    Default

    Apparently my mare's previous owner had some problems with back pain in my mare when she owned her. The vet felt that saddle fit was a large part of the problem (combined with very stiff, tense rider), but the problem was bad enough that it wasn't going away with rest. They opted to try shockwave therapy, and she hasn't had another problem with her back in the 7 years that I've owned her.

    I have no idea if shockwave would be a viable option in this situation, but it might be worth asking about.
    "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
    -Edward Hoagland



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun. 12, 2007
    Location
    Westchester County, NY
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    Default

    X-ray the back. My vet took the last set right in the barn. They were no more expensive than lower leg x-rays, and the quality was outstanding.

    You don't want to inject the entire back if there are only two close or touching spinous processes.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul. 21, 2012
    Location
    Berryville, Va
    Posts
    47

    Default

    A nuclear scan can be in the range of $600-$800. But then you would know exactly where in the body the problem lies. I had a filly that had very similiar problems. After months of guess work we did a nuclear scan and her right left ankle was lit up. Turns out she had a very large chip in her rear ankle from some trauma as a young horse. But it was the last thing we would have guessed and well worth the money to know the problem. Injections and random x-rays and pharmaceuticals can add up to that much fast.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan. 16, 2002
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    West Coast of Michigan
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    Default

    her right left ankle was lit up
    . That sounds bad!
    Click here before you buy.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul. 19, 2003
    Location
    Middleburg, VA
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    12,997

    Default

    I would do a bone scan.

    Like others have said, this will pinpoint where the issues are, instead of stabbing in the dark with multiple vets. Once you know WHERE to look, you can use other diagnostics (x ray, ultrasound) to find out WHAT you are dealing with, then treat as needed.

    I have been around horses who have had their backs injected and it does make a difference for them. HOWEVER, we diagnosed the arthritis or kissing spine clinically before sticking needles in their backs. I would not inject a back unless I knew exactly what we were dealing with.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr. 22, 2006
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    1,331

    Default

    I have heard of some excellent results from back injections, but... It is not a simple procedure. Your vet really has to know exactly where the problem is and has to get the injection precisely in the right spot. I would be leery of just injecting to see it it is the back.
    It looks like you have spent a lot of money chasing down other roads. If you can possibly swing it, it would be worth your while to do the back x-ray or body scan to finally find the problem.
    Isn't it crazy when a vet will say it is a leg joint problem even when all assessment rules it out? And then treats it?
    "The captive bolt is not a proper tool for slaughter of equids they regain consciousness 30 seconds after being struck fully aware they are being vivisected." Dr Friedlander DVM & frmr Chief USDA Insp



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan. 10, 2010
    Location
    Prince Edward Island, Canada
    Posts
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    Default

    I like the idea of the bone scan - although I wonder if that technology is even available in my province - but worth looking into. I definitely see everyone's point about not injecting before we know what it is - I was quiet sceptical when that was suggested - I just keep thinking that we should also look into the stifle. When I ride her it feels like her left hip disappears out from under my seat - but I don't think I did a good job of describing that to the vet.

    In total honesty I am concerned about the cost. I am not a wealthy person and as stated above I have spent a small fortune on this mare in the past two years between vets, saddle changes, corrective shoeing and supplements, and not to forget the regular costs of caring for a horse. I am just wondering at what point I admit defeat. I would hands down invest the $800 in a second if I thought she would come back sound - but I am worried that it is just another gamble that will leave me disappointed again. We are talking about a horse that when sound is only worth about $5,000 dollars due to age, height and breed. Due to her previous talent and 100% honesty over fences I have turned down $10k for her years ago - but now at 14 years old she is not worth that even if she was 100% sound. Even if she comes sound at this point her job would be jumping under 2'6" and lower level dressage - not exactly irreplaceable - except that of course she is irreplaceable (I have had her since she was a foal so I am attached to her - hence why I never sold when I should have).

    The sentimental side of me wants to keep going - but the logical side of me is starting to wonder it is time to throw in the towel. So my decision is do I invest yet another thousand dollars on the "hope" that something works. I guess I am looking for success stories so that I can justify the expense - no pressure. ;-)



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan. 10, 2010
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    Prince Edward Island, Canada
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    Default

    Isn't it crazy when a vet will say it is a leg joint problem even when all assessment rules it out? And then treats it?
    It is hard to contradict a vet even when you are almost positive they are wrong - I mean I know how peeved I get a student's parents when they contradict me - I don't want to be disrespectful to the vet - but I do have to start trusting my own instincts more.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr. 22, 2006
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    1,331

    Default

    You are in a tough spot. Money is an issue for most of us. I wish I could help you more but diagnosis of this kind of thing can be a nightmare.
    Try searching COTH for cross cantering. There have been some threads on it. Maybe you'll see something there that will help.
    "The captive bolt is not a proper tool for slaughter of equids they regain consciousness 30 seconds after being struck fully aware they are being vivisected." Dr Friedlander DVM & frmr Chief USDA Insp



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec. 20, 2009
    Posts
    3,265

    Default

    OP - did any of these vets look for neuro symptoms? My old gelding had very similar situation to your horse, add tripping in the front and wonky neurologically. his arthritis was in the neck - c-5,6 and 7. injections have to be done w/ ultrasound guidance; but he is doing REALLY well.
    There is a thread somewhere in this Horse Care section with a title that starts "C-spine" ; read through it.

    Also, as earlier poster said, you need to know where to inject, so one way or another tests or rads need to be done.
    We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........



  16. #16
    Join Date
    May. 20, 2005
    Location
    Thousand Oaks, CA
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    908

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    We have one mare who does cross canter or swap out behind, especially cantering to the right. It seems to be a combination of when she gets too unfit, if ulcers are flaring up, when her poll gets "tight" which also comes with SI soreness, and lastly if her udder is inflamed. She is a very fussy mare in general.

    If you think it is SI, both shockwave and Sarapin injections into the area of pain, not into the facets, are much less invasive and have worked tremendously for our horses. If you are lucky your shockwave therapy person won't charge extra for multiple areas and you can do the neck as well. Mine is administered by vet/chiro so he can either use acupuncture points, chiro, or radiographs to determine problem areas and then do the shockwave or Sarapin. There are points that are for ulcers that you can check yourself. Start there. If you try Bute for a few days do the symptoms get worse or better? Sometimes worse would indicate ulcers. My gelding who was treated for ulcers with the blue pop rocks showed tremendous improvement in his overtrack/engagement at the trot as well as better, much happier at the canter. The trot improvement was a surprise for me...

    Ps. I've had great results with just one session of SWT, although many suggest three sessions spaced one to two weeks apart. I'd also suggest Pentosan.



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar. 17, 2009
    Location
    The Mitten
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    1,189

    Default

    Just as an armchair vet here, the symptoms you describe are very similar to what my horse did when his SI was painful. He improved dramatically, but only for short periods, with Legend injections. He flexed fine, so I decided to look into whether it was in the back. Saddle fit was great (I'm very picky and so is he); farrier work is great. He did have superficial muscle soreness in the back, but treating that did not fix the issue.

    So I went with a pretty intensive course of chiropractic from a very experiences vet/ chiro who was quite certain (and could show me) that he was very crooked through the SI area. He did have a history of a fall that fit into the timeline and would explain the injury pattern. Since chiro was helping, my other vet and I decided to do an SI injection to really move things along.

    He is now doing better than he has in years, but he did need to have his hocks injected (from over-loading them due to the SI pain), and will probably need the chiro and eventually another SI injection long-term.

    Good luck!



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