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Kissing spine is one of the most controversial and frustrating subjects in the equine industry. There are definitely clear cases of horses that suffer from this very painful condition because of the tips of the vertebrae “kissing.” There is a link to my previous post about joints that discuss the limitations of X-rays. Their are many, many horses that are wrongly labelled with the diagnosis “kissing spine.” The focus is often only on X-rays and people forget about the fact that horses are dynamic, mechanical structures.
Again, there are very obvious patients with clear X-ray abnormalities, but there are also a lot of horses with spinal tips being close, or even seem to touch, but in reality are not suffering from a clinical (painful) condition. These horses might show back stiffness or can even be sore, but the X-ray findings are not the explanation for clinical issues. In my experiences these horses could be sore from anything from bad fitting saddles, bad riding, sore front feet, stifle, hock, sacroiliac pain, bad hind shoeing to just name a few.
The problem with “over diagnosing” of kissing spine is an even bigger issue when horses are vetted. It seems the equine industry is giving its legal advisers a field day as everybody is afraid to go near a horse that is often wrongly labelled with a condition that was never the problem in the first place…