Did you know that 80% of back tightness originates from causes other than injury? It is true that sore lower leg joints or overwork do cause back problems but they are often secondary to other issues. The most common reason for back tightness is constriction of the connective tissues surrounding internal organs.
Internal organs do not contain pain receptors but if they become inflamed the connective tissues around them are irritated. The connective tissues surrounding internal organs have strong pain and stretch receptors and feedback from them through the spinal nerves will affect the spine of the horse. Anytime 2 or more vertebrae in the spine are affected if is fair to assume internal problems exist. If these internal problems are not addressed then treatment of a sore back and/or lower limb joints will give only temporary results.
In male horses we often see connective tissue adhesions from gelding. These adhesions can start out small but grow over time and not bother the horse until he is older. Stomach and intestinal ulcers are probably the most common internal cause of tightness in the back, shoulders and ribs. Ovary problems in mares and kidney and bladder issues can also be considered. Chronic lung inflammation and liver problems affect more the upper spine and withers.
If your horse has had persistent back tightness that has not responded to adjustments or has responded but then relapsed you can have an osteopath evaluate him for internal problems. If you don’t have access to an osteopath then you can go ahead and treat for ulcers with a good general digestive support product such as Ration Plus or Succeed. By decreasing any possible inflammation of the gut you have a good chance of improving rib and back tightness. Give at least a month for healing to occur. If problems persist, a good cranial sacral or Equine Touch practitioner may be able to help relax the internal connective tissue to give some relief. Madalyn
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