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Can we talk about backs/treatments *UPDATE* HAPPY ENDING!

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  • Can we talk about backs/treatments *UPDATE* HAPPY ENDING!

    In trying to be the good horsey owner, I've put myself in a heap of debt, and need some wisdom from the CoTH collective...For those of you who followed my saddle fit post, I had the vet out a couple of weeks ago to check on a mystery lameness from a possible kick. I found out my horse was quite backsore, and needed immediate treatment.

    Horsey had a course of Mesotherapy, and was given several days off followed by a lungeing regime to help build the correct muscles and stretch out his back without the weight of a rider. It's been about a week and a half now, and we're at 50% improvement. Vet is not happy with the progression, has recommended 5 days of bute, and starting on robaxin, and continue on the lunge program for another week before reassessing. There were bone spurs beginning to form, but the vet was not overly concerned about them at this time. I the robaxin/bute/lungeing do not fix the problem we will have to inject his back.

    I'm getting worried at the lack of progress. My horse is lungeing beautifully, in fact better than I've ever seen him move, but is still so sore to palpate. I'm worried that this won't fix him, and then what happens after injection if that doesn't work? I know I'm getting ahead of things, but I really am worried, this is my heart horse...he has to get better.

    I have spent a fair bit on him so far (and unexpectedly of course!) and I'm just getting worried that this won't work. The Mesotherapy was supposed to be the magic fix, but it definitely fell short of my expectations. I know this is a novel, but anyone had any experiences similar? Or any advice? Or maybe a hug?
    Last edited by JustABay; Mar. 11, 2011, 10:58 PM.

  • #2
    Take a deep breath... it's only been a week and a half. He'll get better, it just takes time.


    • #3
      Sending hugs and jingles your way for both you and your boy. I'm headed down a similar road with my own heart horse. Am very disheartened by the lack of improvement, and getting fed up with diving deeper into debt when vet and farrier are only guessing at this point. It's been one "magic fix" after the next for us, and the horse is sound for an hour, then back to crippled.

      No advice unfortunately, but I'm definitely feeling your pain.



      • #4
        Does your horse have any soreness in the feet? My horse had a back problem of unknown origin and it didn't seem to get better. A second opinion showed her to be very foot sore in front. She got shoes with pads in front and that helped a lot. We also did roboxin, bute, and cortisone injections (tried chiropractic but horse was too tense to benefit). Best of luck to you. My girl is all better now still in shoes but no pads anymore.


        • #5
          Backs do take a bit of time--big muscles to heal and release.

          Ask your vet about using Naproxin instead of bute. My vet recommended it as being more effective for backs--racetrack research, I think--and I was pleased with the results. I just bought the grocery store tabs, disolved them in water and added to his feed. You'd need to look up the dosage as I'm having a mental blank--I think I gave 6 a day.

          It will get better.

          (My horse's back problems were related to hock problems and coming back into work after a long layoff.)


          • #6
            Agree, backs take time. Even my own back (I have scoliosis) takes a few weeks to return to normal if I tweak it. And just to perk your spirits up, I have almost always heard of positive results from back injections in horses. Best of luck!


            • Original Poster

              Thanks everyone.

              I have never had any big vet bills for this horse (I know, how lucky is THAT right?!) and this is the first major lameness he's had. The vet seemed to think that with the mesotherapy he'd be sound the next week and beck into work.

              I decided to go with that course of treatment as the vet said it would replace the acupuncture, and he would likely not need the injection. I know vets are sometimes wrong, but when my vet's visits are $700+, I need them to be right.

              Also, the vet did do a full lameness exam with a whole set of flexions (yay for me having to run a bazillion times) and hoof testers to check his feet. I also had the farrier come up to check things out as well, and he said that the feet looked great, and they should not be a factor.

              I'm fairly sure that my old saddle was the culprit, it may not have been wide enough through the panels since he is very sore on either side of his spine where the back panels sit. I won't know for sure until I can get a fitter out, and I can't get a fitter out until I can ride him again.

              Thanks everyone, I'm just really frustrated right now. I spent all of my 'show fund' on vet bills, so my season's out the window, and we were making some really solid progress.

              I will ask about the Naproxin though, the vet is coming to drop off the Robaxin today so I'll see what she says about dosage, etc. Thanks again everyone


              • #8
                When he did a lameness exam, did he flex clean on the hocks? Did he have you lunge in tight circles both ways?
                Cheer up, backs can take 2 months to heal, maybe more.
                I've found a double dose of MSM really helps my two that have back issues!


                • #9
                  I'm surprised at the thought that it would be able to be fixed so quickly.

                  I'm no vet, but over the years I've never seen a horse with a very sore back get better in just a couple of weeks, regardless of the treatment.

                  I had one once that had very severe kissing spines. He was able to event successfully at lower levels with a strong focus on daily, correct, back strengthening exercises. I gave him a couple of years to strengthen. The new work you are doing with him, however correct, might make your horse sore.

                  I also took regular lessons to be sure I was riding correctly, and had a saddle made for him. I had a massage therapist see him monthly, however, she rarely found his back to be tight or sore when he was in the right work. Hope that makes you feel a bit better about your horse's future!


                  • #10
                    Deep breath

                    When I have had some NQR issues that didn't seem to be caused by anything specific (feet, hocks, etc), it took a good 2 months off turnout to correct. That's 2 months of no lunging, no hacks, nothing. Just turnout in a pasture, fed the same diet, trimmed the same, etc. I do think the issue was probably back soreness, but whatever it was wasn't severe.

                    In your case, I would think it would take at least a month or so of just hanging out being a horse for the soreness to go away. The more turnout the better. And of course a new saddle, but I'm guessing you have that covered.


                    • #11
                      My QH had developed a sore back about a month into hunting last fall. Had my saddle checked by a saddle fitter and of course, it wasn't a good match for him even though it had an adjustable gullet system.

                      Got a new saddle and after only 4 times riding him in it, I ended up giving him the rest of the winter off due to work commitments.

                      I'm trying to make a long story short here. Fast forward to spring, back to work and still back soreness persisted after two wks. back under saddle. Had soundness testing, complete xrays of spine, stifles and hocks.....all clean as a whistle. VERY sore with palpation. Began a course of bute and Robaxin for two weeks. No change. Switched up to Previcox with minimal results.

                      Coincidentally, he developed Lyme symptoms just after the xrays and drug course and we began treating him for that. Vet said that sometimes Lyme will manifest back problems. Went through the whole course of Lyme, IV Oxytet, etc. and no improvement. I still wasn't convinced that the Lyme was the problem with his back.

                      Had a light bulb moment and pulled out his PPE that a person who vetted him before I bought him had done. She actually did buy him but returned him after he was agressive in turn out with her other gelding. He had been a stallion until he was 5 and didn't play well with others it turns out.

                      On the PPE it said that he palpated somewhat sore in his right lumbar/hip area. Called the equine chiropractor out and she discovered that he had three ribs out on his right side and was also sore on his right hip. I didn't tell her exactly where I suspected the problem, just that we had unresolved back issues. Two sessions of adjustments with accupuncture later, he's no longer back sore and has maintained his happy work ethic.

                      I'm sold on chiropractic adjustments if you can find a good one.
                      Last edited by Outfxed; Feb. 19, 2011, 03:08 PM. Reason: Can't spell today!
                      Lost in the Land of the Know It Alls


                      • #12
                        Deep breath...

                        I had meso done on my gelding in December, as well as having his SI's and a few articular facets in his lumbar spine injected. He also has some irregularities in his hind end... wonky twisted pelvis, etc etc.

                        I saw some improvement after about the first two weeks, and in subsequent weeks have seen more dramatic improvement. I've had a few chiro treatments for him also during this time.

                        So I'd say keep the faith - my vet advised 10 days before any real improvement would be seen, even just from the meso.

                        I'm not one to say I toadaso. But I toadaso. - Ricky


                        • #13
                          I've had horses with sore backs; I have usually had chiro and/or massage, and had the problem solved.


                          • Original Poster

                            NoGreatMischief - How big of a difference did you see in your horse's pain level after the meso? I have had great results in all but one spot, frustratingly enough. Did your vet also recommend putting your horse on a lungeing program?


                            • #15
                              My horse had a bad back, not from a poor fitting saddle, but we think from something that happened when he was imported from Europe. It took a year of careful rehab to strengthen his back muscles. His back is fine now, though he will never jump again. He is sound for dressage, though.

                              Part of his therapy included lungeing with either a chambon or Vienna Reins to encourage him to lower the head and lift the back, which may be similar to your lungeing regime.

                              We also did lots of walking up and down long hills. Nothing but walk and trot for the first two or three months. Eventually we added cavalletti trot poles. No jumps!

                              It can be done. Don't lose heart!


                              • Original Poster


                                Just posting update on back sitch....Vet called the other day, there has been no improvement with a week on bute and a week on robaxin. She is recommending that we go ahead and inject the back.

                                I'm wondering what others' experiences/views with this, and I am also questioning bringing out a good chirp/acupuncturist, although I'm not sure which of the two to call out, as I'm on a really (nonexistent) budget. Input?


                                • #17
                                  What kind of injections?


                                  • #18
                                    I would find a reputable chiro/acupuncturist or chiro/laser. Also, I had a horse that had to have his feet perfectly balanced or he would get out of whack.


                                    • #19
                                      Backs take time to heal. I'd do 4-6 weeks of stall rest, with daily hand walks and light lounging, and Robaxin, before I'd consider injecting (unless I had evidence of spinal lesions or arthritis). If the suspicion was muscle damage or even bone bruise from really terrible saddle, I'd wait it out.

                                      And yes, I'd have a masseuse and a chiro out back to back (easier to adjust after horse is loosened up). Follow up with acupuncture if you don't see any improvement from the other two. You never really know what any individual horse will respond to.


                                      • #20
                                        Thehorse.com recently had a good article about treating back pain:


                                        Did your vet ultrasound your horse's back and neck? I recently observed a vet do the most thorough lameness examine I have ever seen and was so impressed. She spent over 2 hours observing the horse on the ground and under saddle. She even put motion sensors on the poll, butt and leg of the horse that transmitted info to a cool diagnostic machine. She then finished with an ultrasound of the horse's neck, back and stifles. She explained everything she was doing as well as what she was seeing. She prescribed radial shockwave therapy for the neck and back and confident the horse will recover nicely.

                                        The vet is a track vet who does travel around the country and I would be happy to give you her name. What really impressed me was she told the horse owner that she is more than willing to accept payments. The owner didn't even have to ask.
                                        Proud owner of a Slaughter-Bound TB from a feedlot, and her surprise baby...!