CRYOTHERAPY, or cold therapy as it is more simply known, is one of the most effective methods of alleviating soft tissue aches and pains and healing. Cold therapy can aid the healing of musculoskeletal injuries both old and new, and can also help to prevent them.
Cold treatment has an analgesic effect, which means it numbs the tissue. This brings instant relief to the horse. When soft tissue is damaged, the blood vessels leak fluid into the surrounding tissues. This leads to an inflammatory response, leading to swelling and pain. Cooling these tissues at a new injury site causes blood vessels to constrict, limiting the leakage that leads to inflammation. Reducing the temperature of the tissue itself also reduces the metabolic rate helping it to survive.
With an older injury, it’s the return of the blood to the area after the cold is removed that is most useful. The renewed circulation brings a new flurry of white blood cells and natural chemicals to the area that helps destroy dead cells. This cycle of cooling and warming at intervals helps generate a pumping action in the tissue that can encourage and speed healing.
There are a few different ways in which you can cool your horse’s legs:
Cold Saltwater Spas
Large units designed to accommodate the horse in a safe, comfortable way. When the doors are closed, the unit fills with cold water, with or without salt (which has additional benefits).
A spa can be used for tendon and ligament injuries, soft tissue damage, inflammation, hoof related issues, arthritis, concussion and laminitis. When filled with salt water, it can also be used to support natural wound healing, and also helps to further reduce swelling.
These units run from a mains electricity supply and provide boots and pads which have a flow of coolant consistently running through them. This provides the areas covers with a consistent pre-selected temperature to cool to and a low level massage effect via the movement of the fluid. FMBs Therapy Systems recommend the Frio machine as we like the accuracy and reliability.
Here at FMBs we recommend the Ice Horse Boots. These are easy to use wraps providing uniform compression and coverage to reduce inflammation and heat from various parts of the horse’s body, including hard to
reach places such as stifles, backs and hooves.
- Tendon wraps
- Suspensory wraps
- Knee wraps
- Hock wraps
- Stifle pads
- Back pads
- Knee to fetlock wraps
- Full hind hock to fetlock
- Hoof boots
- Emergency wraps.
The cold packs will freeze to a snow-like consistency within 4-5 hours. Being snow-like they mould to the horse’s leg for maximum coverage and you don’t end up with any warm strips as there are no small pockets or seams in the ice packs causing the edges to warm faster. Additionally, the ice packs will stay cold for up to 2 hours (or longer if kept with ice packs in a freezer bag or box), which is very beneficial when travelling to day shows with no access to a freezer or even just your yard.
Ice Horse also provide a good range of products for people and dogs and the ice inserts can be purchased separately should you need extra cooling without the need to buy additional boots.