Your Guide to Equine Health Care

Where are we Headed with Wobbler Syndrome?

Despite all that is known, important questions still remain about wobbler syndrome.

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Where are we Headed with Wobbler Syndrome?
For visualization of actual spinal cord compression, myelograms can be performed. | Photo: University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture

Cervical stenotic myelopathy (CSM), commonly known as wobbler syndrome, is a neurologic disease characterized by malformations of the neck vertebrae. This leads to narrowing of the cervical spinal canal and subsequent compression of the spinal cord. The cord compression manifests clinically as neurologic deficits, typically with the hind limbs being more severely affected than the forelimbs. Depending on the severity of the horse’s deficits, euthanasia is often elected for humane and horse and human safety reasons.

Equine CSM is considered to be a multifactorial disease with high planes of nutrition, increased growth rates, alterations in zinc and copper concentrations, and genetic determinants implicated in disease development. Although all these factors are known or suspected to play a role, the exact mechanistic details that lead to clinical disease are still unclear.

Gender, breed, and age factors are well represented in the current knowledge base of this devastating disease. Males are more often affected than females. Breeds such as Thoroughbreds, American Saddlebreds, Warmbloods, and Tennessee Walking Horses are overrepresented in the identification of the syndrome. Various studies have identified the mean age of CSM horses as less than 2 years leading to the categorization of CSM as a developmental bone

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