horses - imaging - bone scan - diagnostics

My Aching Back! Kissing Spine, Core Strength, and Recovery

If the Pandemic Weren’t Bad Enough…

This year has seen a host of challenges. On top of everything, my new horse started to show signs that something was amiss. She got heavier in my hands and was rushing off her feet. She felt like the Leaning Tower of Pisa turning to the right and the final straw–she refused to pick up the canter. Something was really wrong!  I consulted the vet for a full examination, but in the end, he recommended I investigate her mysterious symptoms via a trip to Virginia Equine Imaging for nuclear scintigraphy (bone scan). This sort of diagnostic work is not cheap, so after much deliberation I decided it was better to invest now and get a clearer picture of what was amiss, than to go on guessing and trying treatments that may not work.

What the Bone Scan Told Me

When I got the bone scan and X-ray results, I was glad that I had opted for this more advanced diagnostic. It turns out my mare had spinal impingement along her back and the results “lit up” other spots including cervical and lumbar areas. Poor mare! She never acted out, but instead always tried her best to do what I was asking. Now it was my turn to help her. The first treatment was platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections to promote healing. That treatment becomes fully effective and will have done all it is going to do in about thirty days. At the end of that time period, I did an evaluation ride and determined that there was an improvement, however slight. My vet performed a vascular analysis of the area and determined that there was still some blockage and inflammation. Her neck area was treated with a four-point hyaluronic acid (HA) injection and she received a Magna wave treatment which helps promote healing and reduce inflammation.

horses - imaging - bone scan - diagnostics
Diagnostic bone scan imaging showing problem areas

Horses, Hope, and Healing: So What’s Ahead for Us?

riding - core conditioning - dressage - yoga
Yoga-like exercises core conditioning for horse (and rider)

I have read a vast number of articles on this condition and consulted with people who have treated horses suffering such back problems.The results span from giving up and retiring the horse to full recovery. That’s where hope comes in: HORSES, HOPE, and HEALING. It is uncharted territory, and I’m not sure what is next as far as treatment, but for now I am working to strengthen my mare’s core muscles and use stretching exercises to keep her limber as much as possible. Without access to an indoor riding arena, it is sometimes challenging to do what I want, when I want. The weather has interfered with “assessment rides” and other diagnostics. I only hope that I can relieve this wonderful mare’s discomfort and stiffness and regain her trust that she can move with the elegance she once had without fear from being in pain.

In the meantime, I also need to make some changes in my conditioning. That’s a nice way of saying I need to shed some pounds!  Over the COVID-19 quarantine, I’ve let myself gain too much and become unfit. In order to be an effective rider, I need to strengthen my core as well and be in the best shape I can. That means for me: get back to running, do strength exercises, cut down on the wine 🙁 and drop some pounds. I’ll keep you posted on how that’s going.

arena - riding - horses - dressage
Riding arena or skating rink? Winter riding is challenging

Help! From Those Horse Owners Who Have Treated Back Problems

If you have encountered the challenge of rehabilitating a horse with back problems, I would love to hear from you. What is your advice? What exercises did you use? What sort of treatment worked (or didn’t)? Let me know!

HELP! Photo credit Gerd Altmann on Pixabay

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