What is a Kissing Spine?
A kissing spine describes a painful condition in a horse, otherwise known as overriding dorsal spinous processes. A kissing spine is usually brought about by poor posture causing the vertical protuberances of each spinal vertebra to rub together, leading to pain and swelling.
Signs of Kissing Spines
Horses with this condition tend to tense their backs under the weight of a rider, thus resulting in a hard and stiff back with little ability to side-bend. From this the horse’s performance will deteriorate and the rider will feel uncomfortable when riding the horse. If the painful structures are jarred by a rider landing heavily on the horses back or by the horse tripping, it can go into a sudden fit of bucking or pigrooting.
As mentioned before, poor posture is a large cause for a horse to develop a kissing spine. Dr Bidstrup views that one of the most common causes of back pain and poor posture is that of the residual neurological effects of birth canal trauma.
Veterinary diagnosis of the condition will generally start with palpation and followed to confirmation with a number of tests. Local anesthetic is injected in between the vertebrae suspected of painful kissing to see if the signs of pain are eliminated from this test. There are many scans that may also be used but they require a large amount of expense. According to Spinal Vet Br Bidstrup in many cases much can be done before such expense could be necessary. He and colleagues of the Australian Veterinary Chiropractic Association believe that kissing spines are part of a complex postural issue, and in most cases is readily treatable by taking the ‘whole horse approach.’
Soreness from kissing spines can be alleviated by rest, and the problem may be resolved by extensive periods of rest. “Many people are too impatient to see this course of action” states Dr Bidstrup. ” And without dealing with the causes the problem is very prone to re-occurrence.”
According to conventional veterinary practice, surgery combined with physiotherapy based on massage and exercises is considered the most successful solution. The kissing spine soreness in some horses can be settled also by the approach of cortisone injections into the spine.