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Symptoms of Kissing Spines?

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  • Symptoms of Kissing Spines?

    For those of you whose horses have been diagnosed with kissing spines, what were the symptoms you noticed?

    Was your horse's back sore when palpated?

    What did your horse do under saddle? Did it affect his gaits?

    How did you differentiate it from other problems like hocks and sacroiliac?

    Did you try Serapin?

  • #2
    Raising head high and slightly twisting head to one side, plus hollowing back when trotting on longe (my mare had avery bad case) or when being ridden. Turning head and neck around to one side and holding it there a minute or more after exercise or riding, trying to get relief from the back discomfort. Twisting hip toward the side of the most pain, so isisue seems to be in a hind leg, or the opposite foreleg.

    Shock Wave may help. My mare had 3 spines touching and has surgery to remove the center one, which gave instant relief.

    I dop not remember obvious lback soreness. X-rays of her back found it.
    Comprehensive Equestrian Site Planning and Facility Design


    • #3
      Hollowing back especially at canter and in transitions, unwilliing to get to a close distance to a jump. He is very girthy also.

      Mild kissing spine at T18 detected with bone scan, but he also has arthritic changes in spinal joint at T18/L1 detected by ultrasound. I injected kissing spine area with good results about a year ago, and recently injected joint to compare results.

      After reading the above, it is interesting to me that I don't notice too much lateral difference, except maybe more reluctant at left canter. Arthritic issue is on left side of spine. As far as symptoms, it is the extreme girthiness that is making me want to help him so badly.
      Rest in peace Claudius, we will miss you.


      • #4
        Lipstick on the collar....


        • #5
          My horse was diagnosed during the prepurchase exam. Vet noticed a hotspot around T17, xrays confirmed overriding processes and inflammation. Watching him knowing the problem, you notice very little rise and fall of his back and he moved like a board in tight circles. He is girthy and would squirt forward when mounted. He jumps flat. I attributed all these symptoms to lack of physical conditioning, training and manners. I'm sure that's part of it too. Prior to the exam there was nothing that screamed kissing spines.


          • Original Poster

            Thank you for the stories so far. It's interesting that the discomfort was vague. After you located the painful spots with diagnostics, did you go back and palpate them? Did the horse react?

            Xeeboo when vet noticed the hotspot, did he literally feel heat over t17?

            Plumcreek sounds like your mare was really sore. Was she able to full recover and go back to work after the surgery?

            Tothenines when you say girthy... do you mean pinning ears and snapping, or nervous and restless or bloating up?


            • #7

              He is 14 and his various owners tell me that he has been girthy all his known life, which is since he was off the track at about 3 or 4 I think. When you approach with the saddle, he will get a hard look in his eyes and hold his breath. Once you place the saddle on his back and fasten the girth (even ever so loosely), he will raise his head and get stuck in place. When you ask him to go forward, he will grunt and hop. He has no sensitivity to touch on his back, although he can be tickle-ish sometimes in the girth area. We originally thought he might have a neck or wither problem, but bone scans showed the hotspot at T18. Ultrasound shows arthritis in the joint at the same place.
              Rest in peace Claudius, we will miss you.


              • #8
                "Plumcreek sounds like your mare was really sore. Was she able to full recover and go back to work after the surgery?"

                Yes, I cut a pad away over the surgery site for awhile. I'd say 4 months until you could push down hard on the site without reaction, but now years later, with considerable time out for sprained hips, etc. from getting cast, good as new in that spot, under the saddle at T16-17.

                My vet has a good success rate with Shock Wave for milder kissing spines.
                Comprehensive Equestrian Site Planning and Facility Design


                • #9
                  My horse's "hotspot" was not literally hot. The vet could feel the misalignment of the vertebrae. The horse would noticeably flinch when the area was palpated.


                  • #10
                    Reviving this thread as my horse is having the above symptoms and we want to rule out kissing spine. He turns his head to the right and grinds his teeth. His saddle does not fit and I'm hoping that's it. He was out to pasture for 2 years due to a hoof issue which is now resolved and he changed careers to eventing. Everything is on hold as I am waiting for Thursday result. He is a 15 year old TB.
                    "Punch him in the wiener. Then leave." AffirmedHope


                    • #11
                      My horse would dip down when his back was palpated, he was (and still is, unfortunately) grumpy during grooming, and very girthy. His stride also got shorter and he would brace his back, especially at the trot.

                      When we first noticed symptoms we thought it was his hocks. Xrays showed they were fusing, so we injected and did a loading dose of Adequan. His back soreness didn't improve after that. He always got regular chiropractic and finally the chiro (who is also my vet) suggested we xray for kissing spines and sure enough, he had several spots touching.


                      • #12
                        A client's horse had kissing spines and he was extremely girthy and grumpy about the saddle. We tried and tried to make sure it fit properly but it just didn't matter, he hated everything about having it put on. As time went on, he started displaying odd behaviors like kicking at his stirrups if he was led with them down. He would also appear lame on his right front, even though we couldn't find anything wrong with the right front. Regardless, the horse was very good for me under saddle because I could keep his back up enough to keep him comfortable but he was very difficult for his owner - he would stop and refuse to move and would frequently buck.

                        Interestingly, this horse was not sore when you palpated his back but his x-rays were pretty bad. The horse ended up being retired because he also had an old pelvis fracture from his days on the track. The kissing spines may or may not have been manageable but when the pelvis fracture was discovered, the decision to retire him was made easy.