Horse Back Pain, the Multifidus Muscle, and Ultrasound

How equine practitioners can use ultrasound to evaluate the multifidus muscle, which stabilizes and supports the equine back.
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Horse Back Pain, the Multifidus Muscle, and Ultrasound
Evaluating the spine and associated musculature now plays as important a role in the whole horse evaluation of lameness as the limbs. | Photo: Kevin Thompson/The Horse
With the increased recognition of back problems in horses, evaluating the spine and associated musculature now plays as important a role in the “whole horse” evaluation of lameness as the limbs. Nonetheless, back pain remains an “insidious performance problem,” continuing to present significant diagnostic challenges, said Philippe Benoit, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVSMR, from PHB Consulting in Cardiff, California, and Cooper Williams, VMD, Dipl. ACVSMR, from Equine Sport Medicine of Maryland, in Hampstead.

“Back problems occur across all disciplines and can negatively affect a horse’s quality of life and harm the health of the equine industry as a whole,” the authors stated in their abstract presented at the 2019 Annual Convention of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), held Dec. 7-11 in Denver.

With the widespread availability of X ray and ultrasound units with sufficient power to image the equine back, practitioners are no longer limited in their ability to diagnose specific injuries isolated to the back. In fact, they can collect a complete survey of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and joint surfaces.

Benoit described in detail how equine practitioners can ultrasonographically evaluate a specific muscle, the multifidus muscle (MM) in the thoracolumbar region of the spine

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Written by:

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she’s worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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