Neck Pain and Cervical Disease Complex
Neck pain has gained popularity mainly talking about Wobbler’s disease in younger patients. Laxity and skeletal malformation lends the young, underdeveloped neck to suffer from instability leading to spinal cord compression. Often a traumatic incident is reported. However, in most cases, it seems likely that neurologic signs were present leading to the reported traumatic event. Often, these initial signs had gone unnoticed.
A second presenting complaint that has gained widespread recognition in the recent years appears in the middle-aged to older population. These horses, due to chronic strain and lever-type pull on their lower neck, rather present with chronic stiffness, sometimes combined with chronic unilateral front limb lameness that cannot be located in the affected limb.
These horses often carry their neck protected and have limited range of motion or reduced willingness to flex, elevate or bend their neck to one side or both. Medical approaches to the latter disease complex can be rewarding for a prolonged period of time based on accurate diagnostics performed and a focused treatment plan in hand.
Plain standing radiographs and scintigraphy are often used in latter cases. Plain radiographs are often indicative in the first group but a myelogram is often needed to take contrast enhanced images in neutral, flexed and extended position under a short general anesthesia. This is especially necessary if surgical intervention is desired. Sometimes a CT can be helpful in underlining and supporting these diagnostic modalities.
We offer all of these diagnostic steps and have surgical experience to manage either type of cases. Our method of choice is the use of locking compression plates on the ventral side. Usually, the improvement is sufficient enough to allow improved quality of life and sometimes even return to useful performance.