Wobblers Syndrome

What is Wobblers Syndrome?

Cervical stenotic myelopathy (CSM) is what is commonly known as “Wobbler Syndrome” and has been around since the mid 1800’s. It is a neurological disease where skeletal abnormalities in the cervical vertebrae (in the neck) lead to the cervical spinal canal narrowing, and spinal cord compression. The main signs of a horse with CSM are in-coordination , generally with the hind limbs being more affected than the forelimbs. Severe cases of the disease may even result in a veterinarian recommending euthanasia for safety reasons of the horse and humans.

What Causes Equine CSM?

Equine CSM has many causes. Studies have shown the average age of a horse with CSM is younger than 2 years old, which means it is a developmental bone disease. The exact initial causes of the disease are still unknown; researchers have found that gender, age and breed are major risk factors in the disease. Males are generally more affected than females and breeds such as Thoroughbreds, Warmbloods and Tennessee walking horses are more likely to develop the disease.

Diagnosing CSM

A horse suspected with the disease will have a thorough neurological examination performed by a veterinarian looking for symptoms of the disease. Next, x-rays will be taken of the cervical vertebrae and analysed to look for areas of spinal canal narrowing and compression. Once diagnosed there are different ways to manage the disease depending on severity. Therapeutic options include change in diet, and use of anti-inflammatories to reduce swelling and spinal cord compression in mild cases or even surgical intervention for more severe cases.