As in humans, back pain is common in domestic animals. Back pain may arise due to a physical problem with the back, such as a herniated spinal disc (intervertebral disc disease, IVDD), or following an injury to the hind legs. In horses, it can be caused by injury during work or problems with saddle fit. It is also common in older animals, which may be suffering from arthritis and fusion of the bones in the spinal column.
For certain problems affecting the back, such as a severely herniated disc, surgery may give the best outcome. However, for more chronic and nagging problems such as pain due to arthritis, spondylosis (fusing of the vertebrae) or Wobbler syndrome, the only treatment may be anti-inflammatory drugs. These may not be completely effective and also carry the risk of adverse side effects. Many older dogs become weak in their hind limbs as they age. Again, there is unfortunately no effective conventional treatment for this. In horses, back pain may manifest as general poor performance and/or irritability, and may therefore go undiagnosed.