As the horse gallops, jumps, collects, turns, performs lateral movements and extends his stride, he uses power generated from his hindquarters or more specifically his sacroiliac joint, which is the meeting place of the pelvis and spine.
The SI joint plays a critical role in every stride as its function serves as the major point of weight and force transfer between the hind legs and the vertebral column. The amount of force put on this joint makes it not unusual for horses to develop some degree of SI pain.
Injuries to the SI joint region fall into two main categories;
Primary SI injuries; where the pain is caused by direct trauma, for example, a fall that has caused ligament damage, a sprain or a fracture to the associated bone. And secondary SI injuries; where the horse develops SI joint pain or disease secondary to lameness from a limb or another injury.
SI injuries are notoriously hard to pin down, with subtle and confusing signs, they are easily mistaken for other physical or even behavioural problems. Injury to the SI region is frequently associated with muscle loss or wastage over the rump and the increased distinction of the tuber sacrale, which is also known as the "hunter's bump," where long-term muscle loss makes this bony prominence more obvious.
Any injury to this region may leave the joint less stable and it can become a source of chronic pain. Sacroiliac injuries and disease are debilitating and can sometimes be performance-limiting for many horses. Performance horses may develop SI problems through simple wear and tear, and the more mechanical stress the joint comes under the greater the risk. It is important that the right rehabilitation program is selected and that a correct diagnosis is given first.
IR Imaging is a non-invasive and effective method to help to rule out or confirm SI dysfunction and assist with further investigation. Vet-IR provides imaging services that give valuable information and insight that will assist your equine professionals with diagnosis and when providing treatment and rehabilitation programs.