On Tuesday Dr. C was scheduled to come out and do a second mesotherpay treatment on Kaswyn. I had ridden Kaswyn once since the first mesotherpay treatment, and he was so much better that I decided to just lunge him until Dr. C could come out and evaluate him again. I was afraid that if his back was healing that I should stay off of it and let it heal, so I didn't ride even though I wanted to. On Tuesday I thought Dr. C would just come out and do the exam plus the therapy, so I lunged Kaswyn for 10 minutes. Then I rode the other two boys and was cleaning tack when Dr. C arrived.
He examined Kaswyn's back and neck and was surprised at how much better Kaswyn was. He said he never thought he'd see that level of improvement in just one treatment. Then he looked at my saddle on Kaswyn's back, and said that he thought the saddle fit just fine. Then Dr. C said he would like to watch me ride him. I told him that I had already lunged him so he might be a bit tired, and he said that was okay. What he was looking for is how much change there was in Kaswyn's pain after I rode him.
So I tacked up the boy and I rode. I was in a hurry because I didn't want to keep the vet waiting so I didn't put on my spurs or grab a whip. Kaswyn took advantage of this and was a little lazy, but otherwise he felt really good. I was thrilled! Oh, and Dr. C said that I should do some deep bending every time I ride during my warmup at the walk to try and stretch the neck and as much of the back as possible. During the bending Kaswyn took a few of those "weak behind" steps, and Dr. C saw those. He said what made him happy was that Kaswyn took those bad steps but then recovered and didn't repeat them. This was a good sign to him.
We just did about 10 minutes of very simple trot and canter with some 20 meter circles. Then we untacked Kaswyn and Dr. C checked him again. He said Kaswyn's neck was much better after the ride, but his back had gotten tighter in the area where he has the most pain. It's basically his lower back right behind the saddle. Dr. C said that he thinks that Kaswyn's back pain started with lower limb pain, which caused Kaswyn to carry himself differently to compensate for the leg pain. Eventually he had pain everywhere, and now we've eliminated the leg pain so we have to work on the back pain.
He said that Kaswyn has a mild back injury, probably just muscle pain, but he can't rule out arthritis because he can't x-ray the back or neck.
I'm going to stop here for an aside. I got this comment on a recent post.
Just a couple points from the wife of an equine vet who is a member of ISELP (International Sociey for Equine Locomotor Pathology). He frequently x-rays and ultrasounds backs and necks to diagnose arthritis and soft-tissue injuries; it CAN be done by those who have been trained in the proper techniques. He commonly injects necks for arthritis with marked improvement shown, and has used shock wave therapy successfully to treat both sore backs and injured suspensories and other soft tissue. Stall rest and hand-walking for the latter can work, but does leave the injured area susceptible to re-injury. Shock wave actually helps reorganize the damaged fibers into a more normal pattern, which makes them heal stronger. Anyway, food for thought for the future; hope your horse's back issues resolve!
I love getting comments like these. I think it's so cool that there is an International Society that studies Equine Locomotor Pathology! Very groovy. Anyhow, I was told by Dr. C that I could take my horse to Ohio State or another facility where they could x-ray his back and neck, but that his clinic is not set up for that sort of thing. He said the x-rays would tell me for sure if Kaswyn had arthritis, but his guess is that an 18 year old upper level dressage horse will probably show some degree of arthritis. He also told me of a study where they took two groups of horses - one group had no clinical signs of pain (control group) and another group that had pain. They x-rayed all the necks and found plenty of horse in the control group that had arthritic changes in the neck.
So basically I could find out if Kaswyn has arthritis in his neck, but mostly I'm just assuming he does. Based on the level of improvement from just one mesotherapy treatment, Dr. C thinks that if Kaswyn has arthritis it's probably not bothering him all that much, otherwise the mesotherpay wouldn't have been so effective. On the other hand, he said that the neck improved with riding and bending, and that movement of arthritic joints helps them. So we'll just assume he has some arthritis and move the neck as much as possible in the warm-up.
Anyhow, Dr. C did the second mesotherapy treatment and then we talked about the plan. He wants me to ride Kaswyn every other day for about 10 minutes. He said that since Kaswyn has a back injury he needs to be in a rehab program that will make the area stronger without injuring it again. He also wants Kaswyn ridden because he wants Kaswyn to use his back with me on him versus me lunging him becasue my weight, the saddle, and Kaswyn's frame play a big role in which muscles work. He wants to give Kaswyn just one more treatment, and then said says "You're on your own after that."
I'm pretty optimistic. This is the most improvement that I think I've ever seen after I've treated Kaswyn for anything. I think we've treated all of his lower limb pain, because let me tell you that boy was SOUND on Tuesday. Even the vet tech, JR, who has come along with Dr. B for all of Kaswyn's other lameness visits said "Wow, that is the soundest I've ever seen that horse. He looks great!" With the lower limb pain gone, and the back being worked on, I see us finally getting back on track. I will just need to work my horse moderately or at a low level so I don't aggravate any of his other issues.
Oh, and Dr. C said I should know by August 12 (Sport Horse Nationals entry deadline) if Kaswyn will be able to make the show. To be honest, I have a really good feeling about it!
Meghan O'Donoghue and Pirate
7 hours ago