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Back Issues‹ Full Conditions List

Equine back problems are common particularly in performance horses. The conditions involved can be primary or can result from lameness, ill-fitting tack, or even inadequate schooling. It is noteworthy that the most common reason for a horse to present a back problem is poor performance rather than pain. Quantifying the degree and precise site of pain in animals has always been difficult. This is complicated further because the major clinical sign in many horses with a back problem is impaired performance rather than pain. On the other hand, many horses appear to perform satisfactorily despite presence of low-grade back pain. Unfortunately some horses are naturally sensitive and resent being palpated along the back, which may be wrongly interpreted as a sign of pain. Thermography can help to evaluate your horse's back and isolate areas of concern.

Cold Backed describes hypersensitivity over the back with a transient stiffness and dipping of the spine as the rider mounts. There usually are no other clinical signs, although in severe cases the horse might buck or rear at first. This initial stiffness wears off within a few minutes and causes no effect on performance. Whether this condition is actually associated with back pain or is merely a matter of temperament is not clear.

The back has a system of nerve endings that are particularly sensitive to tissue dysfunction. They are referred to as "nociceptive receptors" and are represented in the back by arrangements of unmyelinated nerve fibres. In normal circumstances, this receptor system is relatively inactive, but it is stimulated by mechanical or other damaging forces applied to the tissues containing the nerve endings.

Another important consideration is the seat of the injury itself. Bone damage tends to be centered around the mid-point of the back, whereas soft tissue injuries are more common in the proximal and distal parts of the thoracolumbar spine.

SyncThermology can help to isolate back conditions and provide information that is helpful to your treating practitioner.

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