Wobblers in Horses
What is CVM?
Wobblers or CVM is often caused by a developmental problem and thus is commonly seen in younger horses. Abnormalities in the development of the bony vertebrae in the neck (the cervical region) can lead to poor alignment of the vertebral column, this malalignment leads to pressure and compression of the spinal cord which sits within the vertebral canal. The compression of the spinal cord results in the neurological signs characteristic of Wobblers síndrome, where horses show an abnormal wobbly gait, also known as ataxia. Although most often appreciated in younger horses, occasionally abnormal changes in the vertebrae can occur with age (arthritic changes) and these can also lead to the same result of compression on the spinal cord causing neurological signs. An anatomy book can help with understanding where all this is taking place.
What Are The Signs Of CVM?
Horses often have an abnormal gait, they are ataxic. Because of the location in the neck the front and hind limbs can both be affected. The horse might have subtle signs such as tripping or stumbling regularly, through to exaggerated and apparently uncoordinated movements of his legs. The signs can be very severe in some cases and cause the horse to fall. The abnormality can be associated with pain in the neck region too and therefore the horse can display behavioural signs reflecting discomfort, which do not appear to relate to neurological disease. Other diseases can cause similar signs so it´s useful to get familiar with different causes of neurological disorders in the horse.
How Is CVM Diagnosed?
Is There Treatment For Wobblers Syndrome?
In treating horses for CVM there is often a preiod of stall rest and rehabilitation required as part of the recovery program and to minimise residual neurological signs. Horses on stall rest should have comfortable clean bedding such as shavings to relax on, ideally over a rubber matting base to provide good steady grip and give the horse confidence when moving, ataxic horses can become panicked by their instability. Some entertainment should also be provided when on prolonged stall rest, for example mirrors, licks and selecterd toys (being careful not to choose hazardous ones such as horse balls that he might stumble over initially).
Rehabilitation will often be reccommended a part of the recovery process to eliminate abnormal movement patterns the horse might have developed due to pain and movement compensation, as well as for helping to manage neurological signs.