More Targeted Diagnostic Investigations Warranted for Headshaking in Horses – Study

A recent study has found that more targeted diagnostic investigations are warranted for headshaking in horses. The study, which was conducted by the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and published in the journal PLOS ONE, looked at a group of 37 headshakers and found that there was no single cause for the condition. Headshaking is a condition that can be debilitating for horses and can cause them to shake their heads excessively.

The condition can be caused by a number of different things, including allergies, infections, neurological problems, and even certain types of tumors. This can make diagnosis difficult, as there is often no clear-cut cause. The study found that more targeted diagnostic investigations are needed in order to accurately diagnose headshaking.

This may include imaging studies such as MRI or CT scans, as well as blood tests and cerebrospinal fluid analysis. In some cases, surgical biopsies may also be necessary.

Trigeminal-mediated Headshaking (Part 1): what, why, who & how to make a diagnosis

There is no one definitive answer to the question of why some horses shake their heads. A new study suggests that a more targeted approach to diagnostic investigations may be warranted for headshaking in horses. The study, published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, found that while many potential causes of headshaking were identified, there was no single cause that could explain all cases of headshaking.

The authors suggest that a more individualized approach to investigation may be needed in order to identify the underlying cause in each horse. This is an important finding, as headshaking can be a very debilitating condition for affected horses. If we can find the root cause in each individual case, we may be able to better treat and manage this condition.

More Targeted Diagnostic Investigations Warranted for Headshaking in Horses – Study


Why is Headshaking a Problem in Horses

There are many reasons why headshaking can be a problem in horses. The most common reason is that the horse has an irritation or inflammation in the upper respiratory tract, which is causing the muscles in the head and neck to spasm. This can be caused by allergies, infections, tumors, or other conditions.

Headshaking can also be a symptom of neurological problems, such as equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM), or brain lesions. In some cases, headshaking may be due to pain in the teeth or jaw. It is also possible that headshaking is simply a behavioral issue, such as boredom or anxiety.

If your horse is exhibiting any signs of headshaking, it is important to have him evaluated by a veterinarian to determine the cause and develop a treatment plan.

What Causes Headshaking in Horses

There are many potential causes of headshaking in horses, and it can be a difficult condition to manage. Headshaking is often characterized by an involuntary movement of the head, usually accompanied by a tremor. The most common type of headshaking is lateral headshaking, which means that the horse shakes its head from side to side.

But some horses also shake their heads vertically, or rol their heads back and forth. Headshaking can be caused by a number of things, including: Allergies (including dust, pollen and insect bites)

Nasal irritation or inflammation Dental problems Cervical (neck) pain

Tension or stress Eye problems Brain lesions or tumors

It’s important to work with your veterinarian to determine the underlying cause of your horse’s head shaking, as this will help you develop the best management plan. Treatment options will vary depending on the cause but may include environmental changes, medical therapy or surgery.

How Can Headshaking Be Diagnosed

If your horse is headshaking, it’s important to have him examined by a veterinarian so an accurate diagnosis can be made. Headshaking can be caused by a number of different conditions, including: -Allergies (inhaled or ingested)

-Cervical (neck) pain -Dental problems -Gut ulcers

-Inflammatory airway disease -Sinus infections -Tumors or growths in the head or neck area

-Trauma to the head or neck A combination of diagnostic tests will likely be used to determine the cause of your horse’s headshaking. These may include:

What are the Potential Treatments for Headshaking in Horses

Headshaking in horses occurs when the horse shakes its head and neck vigorously, often for no apparent reason. This can be a frustrating condition for owners, as it can be difficult to determine the cause and thus find an effective treatment. However, there are several potential treatments that may help to lessen or eliminate headshaking.

One potential treatment is acupuncture. Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in treating a variety of conditions in horses, and some anecdotal evidence suggests it may help with headshaking as well. Another possibility is chiropractic care.

This approach aims to correct any misalignments in the spine or other joints that could be causing pain or discomfort which may lead to headshaking. Another option is medication. There are several drugs that have been used successfully to treat headshaking, though they don’t always work for every horse.

Your veterinarian can discuss the various options and help you choose one that may be most likely to work for your horse. Finally, behavior modification techniques such as desensitization may also be helpful in reducing or eliminating headshaking episodes. If the horse is shaking its head due to fear or anxiety, these techniques can help it learn to cope with whatever is causing those feelings and hopefully reduce or eliminate the shaking behavior altogether.


The purpose of this study was to investigate headshaking in horses and to develop a more targeted diagnostic approach. Headshaking is a condition that can be caused by various factors, including allergies, infections, neurological disorders, and trauma. The study found that the most common cause of headshaking is allergic rhinitis, followed by sinusitis and migraines.

The authors recommend a more targeted diagnostic approach for headshaking, which includes imaging of the skull and brain, laboratory testing for allergies and infections, and neurologic examination.


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