Report on the treatment of osteoarthritis of the neck

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Osteoarthritis of the neck

At the end of 2020 we got a huge Christmas present with the overwhelming sense of achievement with one of our horses, a large, 7-year-old gelding! About 1.5 years ago he should have been euthanized as a result of dramatic arthrotic changes in the C6 / C7 cervical spine with involvement of the nerve.

About his story: The gelding arrived with us at the beginning of February 2018 and became a member of our family. This purchase was made on the basis of a swap transaction, we did not test ride it before and did not see it live, we only decided on this deal based on videos.

His general condition on arrival was moderate: very little muscling, poor shoeing and habitual patellar fixation. In addition, he was ridden far too tightly in a roll cure during his training, he could not possibly carry his head in a natural posture even on the reins given, and there, too, he hid his head on his chest. It took more than a year to regain a natural behavior.

A gait irregularity in the front right hand side was repeatedly found under the rider on the left hand. Impaired timing, shortened to a slight lameness. After persistent problems, we had the horse clinically examined in our stable at the end of June and brought it to the clinic for a major check-up at the beginning of July. In addition to various unspectacular small findings, minor osteochondrotic changes in the cervical spine were also found in the C6 / C7 area. After an assessment by a specialist from the Zurich Animal Hospital, no connection with his gait irregularity could be confirmed. That is why the journey continued to the Niederlenz veterinary clinic and the Hünenberg oncology clinic - but again not an aha experience.

So we decided to continue working with the horse in order to build up muscles and stamina and also supported him with feed additives, which has helped him so far. A year later, in mid-2019, we started with smaller tournaments and in autumn the disaster happened! After a rumble in the landing on the warm-up area, the same thing happened in the course on the second jump. Nobody realized what had happened, thanks to video recordings the explanation came! The gelding could no longer extend his right leg during the landing phase, when he stepped on his left leg, the right one was still completely angled, the hoof was still on the elbow - in the last second, shortly before a flip, he was able to pull the left leg forward and The leg only opened again when the right carpal joint came into contact with the ground.

Shocked, we immediately made an appointment at the clinic to x-ray the cervical spine again: with a fatal result! Dramatic deterioration of the cervical spine in the C6 / C7 area with a narrowed nerve canal! Massive neck osteoarthritis! Very bad prognosis, recommendation for euthanasia!

Nonetheless, we took him home and then worked with our vet on a treatment plan with Vetdrop, just as an experiment in the hope of slowing down or even stopping the progression of the disease.

So we immediately started the treatment of osteoarthritis of the neck: the gelding was extremely restless, couldn't keep still, faxed his face, moved his upper lip a lot and twitched his whole head (headshaking). Since there was no improvement in his behavior for a long time, we wanted to discontinue the therapy. We had the feeling that the slight air pressure was already irritating the nerve and that was why it reacted so stressedly to the treatment. As if by a miracle, he stopped showing these symptoms almost at the same time!

So we continued to treat him for osteoarthritis of the neck every 2 days. During this time he was moved without a rider in the horse walker and on the treadmill or free running in the hall so that he could maintain his muscles. After about 2 months we started free jumping and observed his leg technique very well. At the beginning, he reacted more to the treatment after free jumping, but this subsided after a few days. We finally increased the free jumping to 1.50m with both hands and there was never the slightest sign of a delayed leg extension! He also no longer responded to treatment after exercise.

Because of these facts, we carefully started riding him again! The first positive surprise was his regularity on the left hand, no more shortening and no imprecise timing. After about 1 month under the saddle, we made the first small jumps with him under the saddle. No problem!

At the end of April 2020 we decided to take another x-ray of the cervical spine! We were a bit euphoric when we hoped to see improvements, but realistically we did not expect this at all! In the meantime we have also taken thermographic recordings several times. The thermal patterns in the area of ​​the C6 / C7, which were thermally conspicuous at the beginning, have completely disappeared in the meantime, which means for us that there is no longer any inflammation. Even the new X-rays definitely show an improvement and calming in the cervical spine, and the nerve canal is also more open! After consulting the veterinarian, we continued the treatment.

Now we started to train normally with him and from the end of June 2020 we successfully participated in tournaments in the 1.10 - 1.30m category. As a follow-up check and confirmation of our feelings, we finally had him x-rayed again at the end of December and thus got our best Christmas present ever. He can be called cured; the arthritic changes have even receded somewhat and the nerve canal is open. Now we look forward to further tournaments (if Corona allows it again) with a healthy and pain-free motivated horse.


Here for the treatment journal: Osteoarthritis of the neck

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