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Kissing Spine

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  • Kissing Spine

    Our horse has just been diagnosed with kissing spine.

    Obviously we are working with a vet and chiro, but would love to know if anyone has had experience with this condition, good or bad the they can share.

  • #2
    Don't hold your hopes up. However, it depends where it is, and what caused it.

    If it is injury/damage of some sort, maybe something can be done. If it is congenital, take a deep breath.

    If it is in the hind end, there may be hope; if in the neck, probably not.

    That is just my experience- I had two horses with the problem, both congenital (lack of copper in the soil when growing up), in my first years here.

    Good luck!!
    co-author of 101 Jumping Exercises & The Rider's Fitness Program; Soon to come: Dead Ringer - a tale of equine mystery and intrique! Former Moderator!

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    • #3
      Kissing spine is ALWAYS congenital. I learned that this winter, which made me feel a lot better, having had a few horses with it (and wondering if I caused it somehow).

      There are a lot of horses running around at very high levels with diagnosed (and undiagnosed) kissing spines of varying degrees. Some need some management, some do not, just depends on the horse.

      Not every horse will be able to continue work with it, or at least not to a high degree. Or they may get to the point they can't deal with it anymore.

      There are a lot of treatments available to help manage this (shockwave, injections, meso therapy- I think. Don't quote me on that- Tildren can help). If your regular vet is not one that specializes in sports medicine or lameness, you may want to look into finding one near you to look at your horse and cover all your options with you. They'll probably be a little more up to date on all the things you can do.

      Don't worry. It isn't a ticket to the retirement farm. Lots of horses can do just fine with it, to the point you would never know. But knowing your management options is important.
      Amanda

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      • #4
        What are the symptoms?
        "Over the Hill?? What Hill, Where?? I don't remember any hill!!!" Favorite Tee Shirt

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        • #5
          Don't worry. It isn't a ticket to the retirement farm. Lots of horses can do just fine with it, to the point you would never know. But knowing your management options is important.
          Ditto...and lots of horses are thought to have it who don't....

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          • #6
            Originally posted by yellowbritches View Post
            Kissing spine is ALWAYS congenital. I learned that this winter, which made me feel a lot better, having had a few horses with it (and wondering if I caused it somehow).
            I have not heard this. What I've learned is that most horses that develop KS are predisposed to it due to conformation/genetics but some horses develop it after an accident such as rearing and falling backwards in a starting gate.

            I've heard all kinds of stories about horses with KS that go on to lead relatively normal lives. That was not my experience - ended up retiring my horse six months after I bought him at age 8. Hope you have better luck.

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            • #7
              I also have not heard of kissing spine always being congenital. My horse came very close to developing it after a trailer accident where he went under the butt bar and cracked 4 vertebrae in his spine, right under where the saddle goes. We did Tildren on him and it worked wonders, stopped the excess bone remodeling that if it had of been allowed to continue would have caused kissing spine.

              I have known horses to be fine with kissing spine and others that it ended their career. It really just depends on your horse, where it is, and how bad. Good luck!

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              • #8
                A horse at my barn was diagnosed with KS and the treatment is mesotherapy. She has improved quite a lot and gets treated about once a year.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by ZackAttack View Post
                  I also have not heard of kissing spine always being congenital. My horse came very close to developing it after a trailer accident where he went under the butt bar and cracked 4 vertebrae in his spine, right under where the saddle goes. We did Tildren on him and it worked wonders, stopped the excess bone remodeling that if it had of been allowed to continue would have caused kissing spine.

                  I have known horses to be fine with kissing spine and others that it ended their career. It really just depends on your horse, where it is, and how bad. Good luck!
                  What you're describing isn't "kissing spine" but boney remodeling. Kissing spine is when the spinous processes touch and/or overlap. There is a difference.

                  I am HORRIBLE at finding info on the internet. I sat through a very interesting seminar done by Dr. Allen over the winter regarding back pain and performances horses. Far from comprehensive, but one of the things he made very clear is that a horse with true kissing spine (where the spinous processes touch or overlap) is there from a very early age...like, within the first year. It isn't caused by trauma or working them too hard at an early age or what have you. I believe the info he sited was from a fairly recent study, but, I really do suck at finding things like that online (I am always boggled when people just whip out scientific studies! ). So, forgive me. Maybe someone who is more capable can find the study.

                  OP, Dr. Allen (and lots of other vets) has written some very interesting articles on back pain and performances horses, written for the layperson. I found several on thehorse.com. Might be worth reading some of his stuff.
                  Amanda

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                  • #10
                    I second the advice to read the articles on thehorse.com. They give you the facts vs. a lot of unsubstantiated hearsay. I remember getting into a tizzy when I was dealing with my KS horse and one poster here was telling people KS doesn't really exist.

                    One thing I've never understood is how Tildren works with KS. I thought Tildren increased bone mass/bone building which is the opposite of what you'd want with KS, right?

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                    • #11
                      Tildren decreases bone remodeling and is used for various types of accelerated bony changes (OCD, navicular, etc.) but is quite controversial and worth a lot of research before going that route.

                      My horse has what Dr Allen termed "like kissing spine" from arthritic changes from an accident. It is very mild on x-rays and totally negative on a bone scan, but didn't respond to anything (shockwave, meso, etc.) and he is now retired.

                      I think the issue with back issues/pain, in humans too, is that there is often no clear relationship between x-rays and clinical symptoms. Horses can have horrible x-rays and be jumping around comfortably, or their x-rays can look easily manageable when they actually aren't (like my horse).

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Beam Me Up View Post
                        Tildren decreases bone remodeling and is used for various types of accelerated bony changes (OCD, navicular, etc.) but is quite controversial and worth a lot of research before going that route.

                        My horse has what Dr Allen termed "like kissing spine" from arthritic changes from an accident. It is very mild on x-rays and totally negative on a bone scan, but didn't respond to anything (shockwave, meso, etc.) and he is now retired.

                        I think the issue with back issues/pain, in humans too, is that there is often no clear relationship between x-rays and clinical symptoms. Horses can have horrible x-rays and be jumping around comfortably, or their x-rays can look easily manageable when they actually aren't (like my horse).
                        This is true with a lot of things. A horse can look like they are one step from just falling apart, but be sound and performing great. While another horse looks find with diagnostics (or, at least not that bad) but be a hobbling mess. I think backs are VERY typical of this, and I also think the vet you use can be a big part of the doom's day scenario. I knew one horse that was diagnosed with kissing spine while competing happily at the prelim level/one star level. The practice that diagnosed him and knew him assured his people that, with management, would be fine to continue on up the levels. When he was later sold, he ended up being vetted and turned down a couple of times because of that back. Vets reactions were varied, from "well, it isn't great, but it isn't horrible and he's proving he can do the job with it" to "this horse will never be sound." All those were based on x-rays and NOT on what he HAD been doing, happily.
                        Amanda

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                        • #13
                          I personally know several horse's competing above prelim with it.

                          I have one with severe KS. His xrays are worst I've seen (or my vet has seen in a while). I ran him up to Training before we started to have issues and found the KS. His issues are probably related to the KS but not all about the KS.

                          I will say one of the most important thing for a horse with KS is to acutally get them fit and muscled. Good strong mucsles over the top line and healthy hind end are critical. If their hocks or hind end is sore...it will have a ripple effect of making their back sore.

                          Getting them fit and strong is a SLOW SLOW process. My guy is back at step one now....and I will probably not even sit on him for at least a month of doing ground work to get his back/top line stronger. Lots of long and low...long warm ups with the rider off their back.

                          Each horse is different.
                          ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by bornfreenowexpensive View Post
                            I personally know several horse's competing above prelim with it.

                            I have one with severe KS. His xrays are worst I've seen (or my vet has seen in a while). I ran him up to Training before we started to have issues and found the KS. His issues are probably related to the KS but not all about the KS.

                            I will say one of the most important thing for a horse with KS is to acutally get them fit and muscled. Good strong mucsles over the top line and healthy hind end are critical. If their hocks or hind end is sore...it will have a ripple effect of making their back sore.

                            Getting them fit and strong is a SLOW SLOW process. My guy is back at step one now....and I will probably not even sit on him for at least a month of doing ground work to get his back/top line stronger. Lots of long and low...long warm ups with the rider off their back.

                            Each horse is different.
                            Others will have better experience with the high tech stuff, but in addition to proper muscling:


                            Turnout, turnout, TURNOUT!

                            I had a gelding here who was retired due to his KS...never was he more comfortable than during the summer, when he was out almost 24/7. During the winter, when they came in overnight, he'd need some sort of pain management.

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