My old guy has always had issues with his cervical spine/neck. Throughout the years he has developed arthritis which has caused symptoms which mirror EPM such as; ataxia, difficulty bending, hind end weakness, difficulty going up hills, lethargy, difficulty balancing when foot is lifted, muscle atrophy, sore back…you get the picture.
When his symptoms first came on I had the vet test for EPM. The test was positive. I did my research and found out that about 50% of horses will test positive for EPM but only 1% show actual impairment from the virus. I went ahead and completed two rounds of EPM medication therapy and still his symptoms continued. So, I sought out another vet who practiced eastern and western medicine.
After some chiropractic adjustments and acupuncture she felt that his issues were actually due to the cervical spine and not EPM. The vet also showed me how, when looking at Chance straight on, one of his eyes was lower then the other- a classic sign of cervical and jaw issues. We continued with the chiropractic and acupuncture therapy and have continued for over a year and the change has been remarkable. Along with these therapies, we upped his feed, added supplements, began stretches and different exercises, and had him walking and running up and down hills whenever he was outside. The dentist has also been of great help by floating Chance’s teeth every few months instead of once a year. This helps with the alignment of his teeth because he tends to ware one side of his teeth down more then the other; ultimately straining his jaw and neck.
He has rebuilt the muscle on his hind end, put on around 100 lbs, and is able to do stretches while someone is holding his foot up. He runs when he is outside and is no longer on pain medications (except on the rare occasion).
Here is some useful information on a horse’s back and cervical spine.
Diagnosing A Horse’s Neck Problems
Main Causes of Ataxia in Horses
Arthritis of the Spine in Horses