Diagnosing and Treating Neck Pain in Horses

Neck pain in horses remains challenging for veterinarians to diagnose and treat, but new options are on the horizon, one practitioner says.
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neck pain in horses
Davidson recommended veterinarians examine horses with neck pain on the longe and, if indicated, while ridden, implementing different things that might affect different parts of the neck such as a bridle, side reins, a rider, etc. | Photo: Mallory Haigh/The Horse

While we often think of limb lameness as the most common cause of poor performance in horses, neck pain can be just as debilitating. Affected horses might be unwilling to work, stiff, resistant to certain head positions, and show signs of forelimb lameness or hind-limb ataxia (incoordination).

Elizabeth Davidson, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, ACVSMR, associate professor of sports medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s New Bolton Center, in Kennett Square, described how to diagnose and treat this performance-limiting condition during the 2018 British Equine Veterinary Association Congress, held Sept. 12-15, in Birmingham, U.K.

The Physical Exam

When examining

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Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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