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Extension > Agriculture > Livestock > Horse > Horse health > Equine back pain

Equine back pain

K. Searcy, veterinary student, University of Minnesota

Just as in people, back pain in horses is common and can be related to a variety of problems. Common complaints associated with back pain in horses include: restricted mobility; “cold-backed” behavior; refusing work; stiffness when making sharp turns; unwilling to change leads; loss of hind limb propulsion; and sourness with saddling or riding.

If back pain appears to be an issue, owners should consider improper saddle fit, rider imbalance, sprains of the ligaments along the back, muscle injuries, vertebral fractures and bilateral lameness. To diagnose back pain, veterinarians can use a variety of methods, including direct palpation, radiographs, ultrasound, bone scans (scintigraphy), local anesthetics, physical examination, and thermography, to rule other sources of pain.

Treatments for back pain can include:

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