A Pain In The Neck: How Osetoarthritis Can Affect Horses

Horses that have nerve compression in the C6 and C7 areas of their neck have a lack of shoulder tone, shorter strides and tightened gaits, French researchers have discovered. Many times veterinarians cannot locate the source of pain in the limbs, reports The Horse.

Dr. Gwenola Touzot-Jourde, veterinary anesthesiologist at Oniris Nantes-Atlantic National College of Veterinary Medicine, Food Science and Engineering, said that if vets could better recognize signs of lameness that are typical with certain conditions, they could narrow down the focus on where to look once limb lameness is ruled out. She spoke specifically of conditions like degenerative diseases of the cervical joint.

The C6 and C7 allows the horse to have a lot of rotational movement to his spine, but this area also receives a tremendous amount of stress when the horse is ridden. This repeated stress can lead to osteoarthritis (OA), which compresses a cranial nerve associated with foreleg and shoulder sensation.

Touzot-Jourde investigated lameness associated with OA in the C6-C7 cervical vertebrae by temporarily anesthetizing the nerve root in four French Trotters. The researcher then studied how the damage affected their gaits.

They determined that the horses had shortened strides and a lack of shoulder tone, as well as tightened gaits. The horses also swung their shoulders out laterally when standing and would walk with their affected foot too far out to the side.

However, they also noted that the horses used in the study didn’t stumble, fall or lose their balance when tested on a straight line or on uneven ground. They also didn’t show these signs when circled or when asked to step up or down. These findings are important as many vets believed that these might be linked to issues with the C6 and C7.

Touzot-Jourde hopes that by studying the types of lameness specific conditions cause, diagnostic screening can become more efficient.

Read more at The Horse.


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