Back Pain

STEVE: Back pain in a horse–in my experience of doing lameness work on equine athletes for the last 30 years, I utilize the back and/or exacerbation or demonstration of pain in the back for more diagnostic purposes than primary problems. I understand and do realize and recognize that there are primary back problems. But in my experience, more times than not, the back usually becomes sore due to compensatory. The epaxial muscles of the back themselves do not really lend themselves to be under primary contracture. Typically, when you find fairly acute pain in the back–unless there’s demonstrable, obvious evidence that the horse has sustained an injury to the back itself–more times than not, back pain is compensatory or secondary to another problem, as a rule.

ALEX: Yeah. That’s one thing we’ve learned from you in the past, and especially with the race horses, is that that’s your first place to look, to find and uncover what the real problem is, both primary and secondary. The diagnosis of a back problem can lead you to other places, both front and behind.

STEVE: More times than not, that’s been my experience. Usually, if the diagnosis is a primary back, there usually is evidence of an injury there, but more times than not, when a horse shows back soreness, it’s usually compensatory.

ALEX: Yeah. And actually we’ve seen some situations where it’s been somewhat of an easy fix. If a horse has some sore feet, they come off their front end. Their back gets sore–if you fix their feet, shoe them properly, take the soreness away, then their back seems to get better.

STEVE: Absolutely.