Cold hydrotherapy is used to treat (and prevent) a multitude of injuries in 35°F / 2°C saltwater. The spa has successfully addressed virtually all lower leg injuries. Treatment temperature alone induces a massive rush of blood and circulation which otherwise would not be present containing a higher salt level than the sea with a blend of epsom salts to act as a poultice. This drug free therapy can be used for injury prevention and also to increase mobility and reduce swelling in the limbs before and after competitive events and training.
The spa can help with the following equine injuries:
- Tendons and ligament injuries
- Soft-tissue damage
- Splint and bone bruising
- Swollen joints - wind galls
- Flesh wounds
- Abscesses, bruising and hoof related problems
- Mud fever and skin infections
- Navicular syndrome
- Preventative measure - pre and post competitions
- Injury prevention and increased mobility
- Suspensory desmitis
The application of cold hydrotherapy triggers three basic reactions. At a cellular level, the metabolic response of the cells is reduced, so the cells need less oxygen to function and thereby suffer less hypoxic injury. Cold therapy also decreases the permeability of the blood vessel walls, thus reducing the amount of fluid that accumulates in the injured area. Thirdly, the cold numbs the area to a certain degree, acting as a topical pain killer.
Cold hosing is one of the simplest forms of hydrotherapy and a new injury can benefit from being cold-hosed for about 20 minutes at a time, as many times a day as possible. Shorter periods aren't as beneficial, as they don't give the blood vessels enough time to react fully.
Ice can provide a really concentrated cold response, which can stimulate faster results. The only disadvantage of ice is the propensity for the horse's body to heat up ice blocks and pads, rendering them ineffective after a few minutes. Applying ice for 15 to 20 minutes, every two hours, seems to have the best effect. Prolonged application is not suitable for treatment of open wounds. For open wounds, apply cold hosing only until the swelling subsides otherwise it can retard the formation of new tissue around the area of the wound. One of the best things about cold hosing is that, unlike some other approaches such as drug therapy, it will not override the beneficial effects of the healing process.
Cold hydrotherapy using salt water can cool tissues to lower temperatures than normal fresh water. This provides better pain management as well as inhibiting enzyme degeneration of tendons post injury. This drug free therapy can also be used for injury prevention and to increase mobility and reduce swelling in the limbs before and after competitive events and training.
Equine Cold Water Spas
Over the last 20 years major advances in the design of Equine Spas have been made by inventors, particularly in the USA in the 80's and then in Australia in the early 90's. At the same time similar developments took place in Germany and the UK.
During the 90's a considerable amount of anecdotal evidence was reported as to the excellent results achieved in the treatment of leg injuries in horses. Once the optimum temperature of the water was known, further trials established the optimum salination of the water, as it was historically well documented that the salt in sea water had a significant anti-inflammatory effect.
Today equine therapeutic spas have spread to Europe and North America with similar results being experienced across a range of leg injuries which cause lameness in horses.