• All Paws & Equine Vet Physio

What is equine ‘Kissing spine’?


Kissing spine is a condition affecting around 39% of the equine population. The medical term for this condition is ‘dorsal spinous process impingement’ (DSP) or ‘overriding dorsal spinous processes’ (ORDSPs).

Spinous processes protrude vertically in the area between the withers and pelvis. Impingement and overriding of dorsal processes is when two or more processes make contact, this usually occurs in the area where a rider sits.

This x-ray shows impingement and overriding with bony changes which is likely to fuse over time.

Any age or breed of horse can be diagnosed with this condition. It can cause pain and lead to behavioural changes such as bucking, rearing and reduced performance.

The two forms of treatment for this condition are surgical or conservative. The method of treatment used will depend on the severity of the horses’ condition and what the future aims are for the horse in question.

Most cases of kissing spine are treated conservatively in the first instance.

A horse should have between three to nine months rest to allow for a reduction in inflammation, this should be combined with the use of injecting non steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) along with oral medication to reduce pain and inflammation.

The most important thing following surgery or treating a horse conservatively is good physiotherapy!

The aim of physiotherapy when treating kissing spine will be to eliminate pain through the use of electrotherapies, manual therapies and a home exercise programme. As well as enhance core strength as the size and rigidity of a horses spine is designed to support the large, heavy abdominal cavity and not designed to carry weight from above!

When muscles along the horses back contract this causes hollowing, this is a common occurrence for a horse with back pain as the horse guards and dips away from the contact of saddle and rider. However, when this occurs it causes the spinous processes to incline closer together. Getting the horse to lower its head will not only increase the spaces between the spinous processes but also engage the core muscles of the horses tummy. This will support the horses back better, provide greater strength for carrying a rider and enhance performance.

If your horse has been diagnosed with kissing spine get in touch to arrange an appointment - 07807026707

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