Clinical features and diagnosis of sacroiliac joint region pain in 296 horses: 2004–2014

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There has been no large-scale study of the clinical signs of sacroiliac (SI) joint region pain and its association with lameness and/or thoracolumbar pain. Horses with a positive response to infiltration of local anaesthetic solution around the SI joint regions (SI block) and/or abnormal radiopharmaceutical uptake (RU) in the region of the SI joints were included. History, clinical signs, diagnostic imaging findings, response to SI block, and concurrent lameness and/or thoracolumbar pain were recorded. Horses (n = 296) were divided into 2 groups: SI joint region pain only (Group 1, n = 43) and SI joint region pain and concurrent source(s) of pain (Group 2, n = 253). Clinical signs inGroup 1included increased tension in thelongissimus dorsimuscles (40%), restricted flexibility of the thoracolumbar region (44%), trunk stiffness during exercise (61%) and poor hindlimb impulsion (56%). When ridden 65% had a poor contact with the bit, in 81% canter quality was worse than trot, and 35% bucked or kicked out with a hindlimb during canter. In bothGroups 1and2clinical signs were seen in a significantly greater proportion of horses during ridden work than lungeing (P<0.0001). Following SI block, 98% of horses showed dramatic improvement in clinical signs, including greater overall movement through the trunk, increased hindlimb impulsion and better quality canter. Abnormal RU in the SI joint regions was seen in 85/180 (47%) horses. Of horses with a positive response to SI block that underwent scintigraphy, only 43% had abnormal RU.Per rectumultrasonographic examination of the SI joint region revealed abnormalities in 41/129 (32%) horses. Clinical signs of SI joint region pain are worse when horses are ridden. Sacroiliac joint region diagnostic analgesia is a useful, safe but nonspecific block. Ultrasonography and scintigraphy can provide additional information in some horses, but negative results do not preclude SI joint region pain.

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