Equine Back Pain: Dr. Kent Allen’s Bag of Diagnostic and Treatment Tricks

Veterinarians need to assess horses, diagnose the cause of pain, and start medical management early for the best prognosis.
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Equine Back Pain: Dr. Kent Allen’s Bag of Diagnostic and Treatment Tricks
The multifidus muscle, which attaches on the articular areas right beside the mammillary processes and reaches forward two or three vertebrae, is crucial because it is responsible for balancing and tensioning the back. | Photo: Courtesy Dr. Kent Allen

Compelling, controversial, and complicated. That’s how Kent Allen, DVM, of Virginia Equine Imaging, in The Plains, describes the equine back. The veterinary community continually debates equine back pain, which he said can be difficult to diagnose with standard approaches and imaging techniques.

Allen knows equine backs well. He has extensive experience treating high-performance horses in his practice and leadership roles at the Olympic, Pan American, and World Equestrian Games. He’s presented diagnostic and treatment methods for many International Society of Equine Locomotor Pathology (ISELP, for which he serves as vice president and executive director) modules around the world and at the American Association of Equine Practitioners convention.

Allen shared his back-pain workup and treatment recommendations with equine veterinarians at the 11th annual Northeast Association of Equine Practitioners (NEAEP) symposium, held Sept. 25-28, 2019, in Saratoga Springs, New York

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Stephanie L. Church, Editorial Director, grew up riding and caring for her family’s horses in Central Virginia and received a B.A. in journalism and equestrian studies from Averett University. She joined The Horse in 1999 and has led the editorial team since 2010. A 4-H and Pony Club graduate, she enjoys dressage, eventing, and trail riding with her former graded-stakes-winning Thoroughbred gelding, It Happened Again (“Happy”). Stephanie and Happy are based in Lexington, Kentucky.

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