Tony here.  Having a rough week at the office.  Teeny cat and I got into a fight last week – she bit my foot and the vets are saying I broke two bones!  I had to go to Newberry Animal Hospital, got put under anesthesia, and had a horrible splint put on my foot!!  Woe is me! On the upside, I spent a weekend in a bathroom kitty condo at Dr. King’s house, got a new fluffy bed, and am getting many pets.  ::Sigh::  Anyway, enough complaining, we’re supposed to be chatting about CSM – part two!

Last week, our blog was introducing CSM, a group of orthopedic disorders that happens in the neck of the horse, causing neurologic signs similar to EPM.  Scroll down to read last week’s blog on Type I, which generally occurs in young horses.  Type II CSM occurs in older horses as a result of arthritis that occurs at what is called the articular facets.  Facets are normal bony projections off the main body of the vertebra – in horses, the facet from one vertebra forms a joint with the facet from the next vertebra.  When arthritis forms at this joint, the horse becomes stiff and has a hard time turning his head from side to side.  Eventually, the arthritis becomes advanced enough that it results in compression of the spinal cord, causing neurologic signs. This type of impingement is static – meaning it does not generally change with head position.  Like type I, this is a problem with cartilage and bone development. The arthritic bone is very brittle and may fracture off small pieces, resulting in further pain and worsening of clinical signs.

Symptoms generally start with signs of ataxia, dragging the back feet, and hind end weakness, similar to type I.  A “pacing” walk may be seen, and the signs may be asymmetric (eg, your horse may be stiff turning his head one way, but not the other).  The horse may have trouble getting over fences or begin tripping in the front end.  In this respect, shoeing can help tremendously.  By using a world wide racing plate, you make it easier for the horse to pick his foot up (like when you wear a pair of Sketcher’s Shape Ups!), and often times, the greatly reduces how often the horse trips.  Like type I, diagnosis is based on neck radiographs that we perform at the clinic.  Treatment is palliative – anti-inflammatory medication such as phenylbutazone (Bute) or banamine help manage the pain and inflammation.  Facet injections (performed at the clinic under sedation, and with ultrasound guidance) help to reduce inflammation in the joint, and can make your horse more comfortable for months or even years.  If you are interested in having your horse evaluated for possible CSM type II, you should consider bringing your horse to the clinic for the neurologic evaluation.   as we can then perform neck radiographs and injections the same day!  Thanks for reading, may your litter box be clean and your food box be full!

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