Muscle soreness is a fact of life. Inflamed muscles may result from exercise, ill-fitting tack, improper shoeing, and bad riding techniques, individually or in combination. When your horse experiences joint soreness, he will automatically tense up the muscles involved with that joint. Depending on the level of joint discomfort, he may stiffen the entire limb or an even larger section of his body.
A wide variety of treatment options are available to manage pain and control swelling, prolonging your horse's athletic function and soundness, and maximizing his lifespan. Your veterinarian may advise you on the classical medications used to treat inflammation. You can also successfully control inflammation with an integrative treatment approach that draws on different modalities. -- Jean-Pierre Hourdebaigt LMT
Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institue
Stimulation of these acupoints further supports the health of cartilaginous joints, including the horse’s vertebrae and pelvis, plus the fibrous joints in the sutures of his skull.
A horse’s fluid body movement is completely dependent on the health of his joints. It follows that the health of the joints is dependent on a harmonious flow chi (life-promoting energy) surrounding and through these joints. Unfortunately, the free flow of chi through the horse’s joints can be easily obstructed by something as simple as cold weather constricting and slowing the flow of chi or as chronic and painful as arthritis...
Even when there’s no trauma to the joint or an aging issue, chi flow tends to be slowed or stuck above and below joints. Offering your horse a brief acupressure session before exercise would be both kind and beneficial to enhance his comfort level.
Stimulation of the acupressure points, also called “acupoints,” shown in the accompanying chart can increase the horse’s flexibility by bringing nourishing chi, blood and synovial fluids to the movable joints such as the shoulder, hip, stifle, and hock joints. - Amy Snow & Nancy Zidonis, Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute, www.animalacupressure.com
All three members in this anti-inflammatory and pain reducing trio have a long history of use in both Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Current research supports their traditional uses and hasadded some new applications and insights.
Boswellia or Ru Xiang is used in Chinese Medicine for trauma, inflammation and bleeding. Recent research of this tree resin has demonstrated it measurably lessens osteoarthritispain by reducing the effect of pro-inflammatory cytokines and leukotrienes (inflammatory chemical messengers) and bone remolding.Ginger or Gan Jiang inhibits the activity of pro-inflammatory cytokines making it helpful for joint pain, and inflammatory conditions generally. Recent results of a double-blind clinical trial indicated that ginger was as effective as non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Additionally, Ginger is hepato protective (liver protecting) making it a nice solution for longterm pain control.
Turmeric or Yu Jin is also a member of the Ginger family. Turmeric lessens the effect of pro-inflammatory cytokines and enzymes like Cox-2 and 5-Lox.
Equal amounts of all three powdered herbs should be mixed together and stored in a sealed jar. One to two tablespoons per day is adequate for the average 1,000 pound horse. -
Gloria Garland L.Ac., Dipl. Ac. & CH.,
Regular application of massage, and the use of heat and cold poultices, will increase circulation (blood and lymph), assisting the removal of toxins and providing more oxygen and nutrients to that body part. Massage safely affects the whole body by enhancing the circulatory, musculoskeletal and nervous systems and their interdependent functioning. This will result in a better metabolism, will fight inflammation and will lead to a shorter recuperation time while making your animal more comfortable.
Massage will relax your horse when tight, and give him strength and flexibility when tired. Over time, it also will help cope with the boredom and possible anxiety resulting from being laid up. Relaxing the horse's nervous system from stress will help the psycho-physiologic self-regulation factors between body and mind, triggering your horse body's ability to help itself back to health. - Jean-Pierre Hourdebaigt, LMT , www.jeanpierrehourdebaigt.com
Traumatic joint disease represents one of the most common problems of the horse. Therapeutic ultrasound is a proven tool for preventing and managing this in our equine athletes. The principle is to reduce acute inflammation and get rid of inflammatory fluids that could later lead to permanent fibrosis.
Ultrasound accelerates the normal resolution time of the inflammatory process by attracting more mast cells to the site of injury. Increase in blood flow can be beneficial in the sub-acute phase of tissue injury. As blood flow is increased, it is not advised to use ultrasound immediately after injury.
Ultrasound also stimulates the production of more collagen which is the main protein component in soft tissue such as tendons and ligaments. It improves the extensibility of mature collagen and so can have a positive effect on preventing fibrous scar tissue which may form after an injury. - Dianne Volz
Joint pain occurs for many reasons and therefore could involve one or more of the many biochemical pathways present in the joints. For this reason, it is most useful to change the types of products used for joint support periodically, perhaps on a yearly schedule. If a particular horse has a very positive reaction to one product, that horse should stay on that product for many years. Some horses will need an injectable product for a specific problem, or because their digestion may not absorb the oral well.
I divide the products into different classes; the most common being a mix of chondroitinand glucosamine. Hyaluronic acid-based products work on a different pathway and many horses respond well to the oral supplements. Herbal formulas have a different action than the ones listed above, and can be divided into different classes: western herbal or Chinese herbal. Individual herbs can also be used, such as turmeric/curcumin or Noni (fruit leather or powder). – Joyce Harman, www.harmanyequine.com/
EQUINE MAGNETIC THERAPY
Most therapeutic techniques are designed to increase metabolism in the area, mostly by increasing blood flow. Creating a state of vasodilation, widening the diameters of the capillary network, more blood is forced into the area which accelerates the removal of the damaged tissue. The chemical mediators the body has released control the inflammation in the area and also allow the tissues to heal faster by increasing the concentration and availability of the basic building blocks the tissue needs for repair.
Chemicals, heat, massage and electric currents have all been used to increase blood flow to an injured area to relieve inflammation and improve mobility. Magnetic therapy, properly applied, has all the advantages of these methods with none of the drawbacks. There is no recurring cost, no worry about the potential hazards of electric currents, and minimal risk of irritating the skin. A properly designed magnet, one intended to affect a deep area with a saturation of the tissues, with the proper type and strength of magnetic fields, can predictably relieve swelling and accelerate healing. -Tammy L. Wells and Ted Zablotsky, MD
Using Kinesiology Tape in areas of swelling and inflammation can be quite effective if you follow the correct protocols for the Equi-TapingTM Method. The goal is to move collected fluid (blood flow and lymph) out of the affected area to reduce swelling Areas of tissue inflammation contain a buildup of fluid and metabolic by-products, known as stasis. When applied properly, the tape can lift the skin, thereby decreasing pressure on pain receptors and opening channels for movement of blood and lymph. The tape aids in the removal of toxins and helps deliver oxygen to the affected area by increasing the local circulation, resulting in a decrease in recovery time. The benefit of the tape is that it is non-invasive and has no medicine on it, and has proven to be a very successful modality when used as an aid to decrease inflammation. - Dr. Beverly Gordon, DC, www.equi-tape.com
Using liniment to support and prevent such issues is well accepted by most veterinarians and horsemen. Most (not all) liniments contain alcohol, menthol or methyl salicylate. Liniments can help with cooling and vasodilation, and have analgesic properties. Cooling (through heat dissipation) the affected area may reduce possible structural damage; vasodilation helps remove the byproduct of tissue damage and increases the delivery of mediators of inflammation naturally produced in the body.
Liniment use can be enhanced by applying proper wraps for a prescribed period. Wraps help prevent evaporation of the product, yet allow increased absorption and depth of tissue penetration. Care is needed when combining wraps with liniments; alcohol or menthol can irritate or burn the skin, especially when covered. There are liniments available specifically
formulated to avoid irritation and burning, while providing analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. - Jay Altman, DVM , www.arenus.com
The use of photonic red light is an excellent aid in increasing circulation which is a key component in reducing inflammation. Photonic therapy works because the body’s tissue can absorb this type of light at a cellular level, converting it to cellular energy (known as ATP). Many studies have shown that this energy accelerates activity in the mitochondria (the part of the cell that generates protein, collagen, and healing materials) as well as improving blood flow in the area being treated, speeding healing and minimizing pain.
There are different applications with a photonic light. As an acupuncturist would use needles, one could use the light and follow the charts for a specific condition. Another way would be to apply the light directly to the area of inflammation and hold in one place for about 30 seconds. Then move the light to another spot and continue to “surround the dragon.” - Sharon Katzke, www.aahlight.com
The signs of inflammation are easily recognizable once you know what to look for. Regular grooming is a great opportunity to perform an inspection that will allow you to detect these signs early and take immediate action, before the inflammation gets too serious.
(SIDEBAR) The Three Stages of Inflammation 1. The Acute Phase
Usually the first 24 hours following an injury are considered the acute phase. The inflammatory process begins with a short vasoconstriction quickly followed by a vasodilation with an increase in vascular permeability (swelling).
2. The Sub-acute Phase
Twenty-four to 72 hours after trauma/infection is considered the sub-acute phase. During that phase, the vascular permeability is sustained with phagocytes (cells which ingest and destroy microbes and debris) that migrate to the injury site causing:
An increase in swelling
An oxidation of fluid from the vessels
Clustering of local phagocytes along the vessel wall
Phagocytosis of microorganisms
Disposal of the accumulated toxins and debris by macrophage
3. The Chronic Phase
After 72 hours is considered the chronic phase. During this phase the repair process includes:
Deposition of fibrin in the vessels
Migration of fibroblast cells to the area
Development of new, normal tissue cells as well as connective tissue (scar)
Proportionally to the severity of the injury, a chronic phase can last weeks, sometimes months. In some instances, a chronic injury can flare up, displaying signs similar to the ones seen in an acute phase (swelling and tenderness).
The nature and severity of the problem causing the inflammation will strongly influence the span of the different phases of that particular inflammation. -Jean-Pierre Hourdebaigt LMT
compiled by Carolyn Crew