Academics from the University of Bristol and the University of Liverpool have evaluated the long-term success rate of a “pioneering” new surgical procedure in the treatment of headshaking syndrome in horses.

Academics from the University of Bristol and the University of Liverpool have evaluated the long-term success rate of a “pioneering” new surgical procedure in the treatment of headshaking syndrome in horses.

Academics have started investigating a treatment method for headshaking in horses.The diagnosis and treatment for headshaking syndrome – when a horse shakes or jerks its head uncontrollably for no apparent reason – has progressed, but the pathology of the disease remains unknown and further research is needed.

The study, led by Veronica Roberts, clinical fellow in equine medicine the Bristol School of Veterinary Science, evaluated a procedure called the “caudal compression of the infraorbital nerve”, which sees platinum coils placed into the nerve ends within the canal to relieve pain.

The study found this surgery could be a viable option for treatment, with a long-term success rate of nearly 50 per cent. Nonetheless, researchers are continually working to find a more effective treatment method.

Miss Roberts said: “There are striking clinical similarities between facial pain syndromes in people, most notably trigeminal neuralgia, and headshaking in horses.

“Headshaking in horses is a major welfare issue and more research is needed on the aetiopathogenesis of this pain syndrome to improve medical and surgical therapies. Headshaking is a significant cause of distress for some horses and this treatment in selected cases is needed even though the failure rate is limited.”

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