Back and Sacro-Iliac Pain

Back and sacro-iliac pain are frequent causes of poor performance and subtle lameness in the horse. It may be due to problems in the bones, joints or ligaments (primary back and sacro-iliac disease), or secondary to limb lameness.

A careful clinical examination at rest and at exercise, sometomes ridden, is recommended. Once problematic areas are identified, a combination of radiographs and ultrasound scans allow diagnosis in most cases. Due to the size of a horse’s back radiographs are best taken in the clinic, where a more powerful xray machine can be used. In some cases, complementary diagnostics like bone scans, will be needed to detect sites of the lesions.

Investigation into back pain

Ultrasound scan of the supra-spinous ligament. Lesions are seen in the ligament and on the bone surface of the dorsal spinous process (DSP).


Radiography of the Dorsal Spinous Process (DSP). Impingement of the DSPs (“kissing spine”), with sclerosis and lysis of the bone.

An xray of an horse’s back showing a diseas. The articular facet was medicated with corticosteroids using ultrasound guidance.