Equine Chronic Sacroiliac Subluxation: An Old Problem - A Novel Therapeutic Approach


Sagiv Ben-Yakir, BSc, DVM, MRCVS
e-mail:benyakir@netvision.net.il
ORSHINA - The Israeli Veterinary Institute for Holistic Medicine

Republished from the Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association - October 2002, Volume 21, Number 3, Page 13-14

Vertebral disorders and injuries of the sacroiliac joint have been identified as substantial causes of chronic poor performance in horses. Soft-tissue injuries of the back and pelvis include subluxation of the sacroiliac joint among other conditions.1-8 The conventional treatment for subluxation usually is complete rest and anti-inflammatory drugs in the acute stage, followed later (especially in chronic conditions) by local injection of irritants in order to produce scar tissue. A healed injury of this type, using this treatment, is more subject to re-injury, and the prognosis is always guarded.8 When we are dealing with high-performance horses, we should keep in mind that a horse with the usual conventional therapy might go back to sporting events, but it is unlikely that the horse will perform as before.

The idea behind our current clinical trial was to establish an alternative to the conventional regimen-one that would give a better prognosis, especially in performance horses. Between September 2000 and October 2001, 21 horses with chronic sacroiliac subluxation were seen by our mobile clinic after initial diagnosis and primary symptomatic relief by referring veterinarians. The horses came from different areas of the state of Israel. We promoted this trial through lectures to veterinarians and horse farm owners from all over the state.

Sixteen of the 21 horses were included in our therapy sessions. The three owners of the other five horses elected to use the conventional treatment regimen. These horses served as a control group. All 16 animals were performance horses: eight were Thoroughbred race horses (flat racing), six were Quarter Horses competing in reining, and two were Arabian horses competing in flat racing. The horses ranged in age from two to five years old, the sex ratio was 50:50, and all were sexually intact. In 13 horses the high side was on the right side. Horses were referred to us two to six months after diagnosis and initial treatment, because of failure in any sort of training or owner dissatisfaction with the current treatment and/or prognosis. All sixteen horses received the same treatment regimen:

1. Injection of Traumeel ad us vet (for veterinary use) into three acupuncture point locations (see Table 1) every 14 days for three treatments (Day 0, Day 14, and Day 28), using a method known as "biopuncture."

Table 1: Acupuncture Points Used

Point Used in Treatment Anatomical Location Technical Information
Animal GV03 - Animal Baihui In the lumbosacral space Spinal needle, 19 G, 90 mm, perpendicular insertion, 7 cc Traumeel ad us vet
BL40-Weizhong, Both legs Midpoint of the transverse crease of the popliteal fossa, between the semitendinosus and biceps femoris muscles 25 G, 16 mm needle, perpendicular insertion, 1.5 cc Traumeel ad us vet

2. Stretching the hind legs: the rear leg on the high side was stretched back and held for 30 seconds, and one minute later the rear leg on the low side was stretched forward and held for 30 seconds. The legs were lifted as far as the horse would allow. The stretching was done three times per day for 28 days (until the last injection).

3. Walking: during the 28 days of treatment, all horses were only allowed to be walked by a handler within farm limits. No other exercise was allowed.

After 28 days of treatment, each horse was evaluated by our mobile clinic team and its referring veterinarian, trainer, and jockey for pain, stiffness, lameness, presence of malformation, and willingness and ability to perform. These horses are still under inspection by us for re-injury of the pelvic region. Fifteen of the horses resumed their original training sessions and went back to racing, and one horse (Arabian female) went for breeding. The owner made this choice after improvement was not achieved. The owner was reluctant to continue treatment after the clinical trial was completed. In our surveillance up to now (August 2002), we did not see any repetition of the original problem. It is worth noting that one of the Thoroughbreds ("Yagud," also known as "Dino") won 17 out of 22 races after coming back to racing, and was given the title "Horse of the Year" by the Israeli racing horse committee, and another horse (Quarter Horse) won the Israeli championship for reining. The three owners (not included in the 16 clinical cases) that elected not to perform the suggested regimen sold their five horses a year later, since they were found to be unfit to perform.

Discussion:

Traumeel is an antihomotoxic preparation from Heel that among its primary indications 9,10 are such "injuries as luxation, sprains, contusion, fracture.and inflammatory processes and degenerative processes associated with inflammation of the various organs and tissues, including, in particular, the support and mobility apparatus.."

Dr R Szumlakowski 11 and Dr D Wiendieck 12 worked with Traumeel in horses with different injuries of the mobility apparatus with good success in returning the horses to sporting activity. Dr H Gratz 13 found the same results in small animals. Similar results are found in human sport injuries that involved subluxations.14,15 In these articles and others 16 it was mentioned that better results are achieved if the remedy is injected into acupuncture points related to the problem at hand, a technique known by the name biopuncture.

The three acupuncture points were selected due to the fact that they are related to the horse's rear back problem,17 are easily found, and have enough space to inject a large volume of antihomotoxic remedy without causing pain to the horse.

When one is dealing with a problem in the sacroiliac area, it is critical to consult a veterinary chiropractor to determine which stretching exercises would be appropriate for the pelvic condition. In this study, we utilized a technique of stretching the side with the higher tuber coxae back and the side with the lower tuber coxae forward.18

It seems to us that a combination therapy consisting of a homotoxicological remedy (Traumeel ad us vet) injected into specific acupuncture points (technique known as "biopuncture") along with physical manipulation provides some obvious benefits for performing horses with chronic sacroiliac subluxation. The prognosis is favorable (90% success rate) for coming back to high performance and reaching the maximum potential of the horse.

References:

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2. Wagner PC (1982). Diseases of the spine, pp 1145-1158, in: Equine Medicine and Surgery, 3rd ed, Mansmann RA and McAllister ES, Eds, American Veterinary Publications, Santa Barbara, CA.
3. Haussler KK, et al (1999). Pathological changes in the lumbosacral vertebrae and pelvis in Thoroughbred racehorses. AJVR, 60(2):143-153.
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16 Kersschot J (2002). Biopuncture and antihomotoxic medicine. Inspiration.
17. Fleming P (2001). Acupuncture for musculoskeletal and neurologic conditions in horses, pp 443-467, in Veterinary Acupuncture: Ancient art to modern medicine, Schoen AM, Ed. Mosby.
18. Dr Kevin J May, California, USA. Personal communication.