Osteoarthritis and cervical pain can present with clinical. Almost all skeletal preparations of horses over 18 years old have
evidence of arthritic changes. The disease occurs with some frequency in horses at competitive event ages. Osteoarthritis
and other degenerative changes initiated via acute or chronic trauma, or osteochondrosis of articular process articulations
are common etiologies.
Figure 1. A right lateral view of a skeletal preparation of cervical vertebrę C4 and C5. See text for legend.
Figure 1 is a skeletal preparation of C4 and C5 and depicts the gross anatomy of the structures in question. The area of synovial
attachment has evidence of osteophyte formation (c). The caudal C4 facet (a) cranial C5 facet (b) and transverse process of
C4 (d) are evident and labeled.
Figure 2. A bone preparation and ultrasound image of the right vertebral articulation of C4 and C5. See text for legend.
The cervical articular facets form an identifiable ultrasonographic landmark that has the appearance of a hand with an outstretched
thumb and flexed 2 first digits (Figure 2).
Figure 3. A method of evaluating neck flexibility.
In Figure 2, the image of the hand (right) represents the ultrasonographic image. The caudal facet of C4 (C) and its transverse
process (E), and the cranial facet of C5 (B) and its transverse process (D) are labeled. The ultrasound probe (A) is at the
approximate scanning position as the image in the center. The ultrasound image in the center shows the bone shadows of the
transverse process of C4 (E), the cranial facet of C5 (B) and caudal facet of C4 (C). The image of the hand is likewise labeled
with the caudal facet of C4 (C) and its transverse process (E), and the cranial facet of C5 (B).
Figure 4. Cervical myelograph with evidence of severe degenerative changes of the right dorsal vertebral articulation of C6
Identifying the site for anti-inflammatory drug injection
Physical examination specific for neck pain
Physical examination of the horses with cervical neck pain indicates reduced to poor cervical flexibility. This author considers
normal flexion evident when the horse's nose can be flexed to the left pant pocket with smooth motion and little hesitation.
Some training may be necessary. These procedures should be performed carefully, consistently and bilaterally.
Figure 5. Cervical radiograph that shows severe degenerative changes of the dorsal vertebral articulation of the C5-C6 articulation.
Radiographic changes with little to no clinical signs have been seen by the author. Clinical However, severe pathology must
be present for radiographs to be diagnostic (Figure 4, 5, and 6).
Figure 6. Ultrasonographic image of dorsal lateral cervical articulation with evidence of osteophyte formation (arrow). The
caudal C5 facet (A) is evident.