Back Pain in Horses: Then and Now

A recent comparison of diagnosis and treatment of back pain in horses a decade apart has highlighted the way riders and veterinarians alike have evolved in their awareness and management of this condition.
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back pain in horses
A recent comparison of diagnosis and treatment of back pain in horses a decade apart has highlighted the way riders and veterinarians alike have evolved in their awareness and management of this condition. | Photo: Kevin Thompson/The Horse

For decades—likely even longer—back pain has been causing poor performance, dangerous behavior, and compromised welfare in riding horses. Unfortunately, we haven’t always been so aware of that fact. But there’s some good news on this front: A recent comparison of diagnosis and treatment of back pain in horses has highlighted the way riders and veterinarians alike have evolved in their awareness and management of this condition.

“In the last decade, the attention to back pain has grown so much,” said Andrea Bertuglia, PhD, of the University of Turin Department of Veterinary Science, in Grugliasco, Italy.

“The evolution in the available diagnostic imaging techniques has enabled vets to investigate this region further in detail, obtaining definitive diagnoses, and to tailor the right treatment,” he said. “Veterinary surgeons most likely have more training in physical therapy and rehabilitation as well, and the horses are followed during the entire convalescence period

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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