EQUINE ULTRASOUND THERAPY
Sport horse owners in large numbers have seen ultrasound employed in diagnosing ligament and tendon injuries. But perhaps not quite so common is the use of ultrasound to facilitate recovery from injury. It is an intriguing and beneficial modality for treating a variety of problems in equines, particularly in the limbs
What is Equine Ultrasound Therapy?
Ultrasound Therapy creates vibrations in the muscle tissue and skin. These vibrations almost instantly calm inflammation help increase blood flow directly where it is needed.
How does Ultrasound Therapy work?
Ultrasound is a physical medicine treatment for tendon and ligament injuries. It helps control pain by sedating nerve endings. Pain is diminished by decreasing local sensory nerve conduction velocity, and inducing the systemic release of endorphins, enkephalins, and serotonin. High serotonin levels help diminish pain sensations all over the body.
What can Ultrasound Therapy help with?
Joint Mobility--Ultrasound is often used to increase joint range of motion, which might have been compromised by scar tissue, muscle spasm, tendonitis, and bursitis. Elevating tissue temperatures provides a level of comfort for the horse when stretching exercises are used to increase the joint's range of motion.
Tendon Extension--A tendon, when injured, will tend to shorten or contract. To achieve normal elongation once again, the therapist will normally make use of both heating and stretching. Heating a tendon to 37-40° Centigrade and applying static or repeated steady stretches manually can increase tendon length.
Scar Tissues--There is evidence that ultrasound can soften scar tissue, which is capable of inhibiting normal range of motion. Scar tissue will absorb more of the sound wave energy and can thus be selectively heated by ultrasound because it is more dense than the surrounding tissue. Scar tissue can be compromising to the horse's ability to perform and can be cosmetically unattractive.
Bony Growths--Ultrasound is sometimes used to treat pain and inflammation associated with splints, or exostosis (a spur or bony outgrowth of a bone) of the interosseous ligament between the second and third or third and fourth metacarpal bones. This condition is caused by new bone formation in response to trauma from a blow or from weight bearing on imperfectly positioned bones. However, it appears unlikely that ultrasound can be used to stimulate the reabsorption of calcium deposits. Reduction of splint size is probably due to a reduction in the swelling in the soft tissue and a resolution of scar tissue around the injury, not a reduction in the size of the actual bone formation. The most satisfying results normally are obtained from treatment that is begun at the first sign of inflammation.
Pain Relief--While ultrasound can alleviate pain, there is some uncertainty as to specifically how this is accomplished. It is known that ultrasound can stimulate acupuncture points and trigger points for pain relief.
Muscle Spasm Relaxation--Ultrasound produces relaxation of muscle spasms through its direct effect on the gamma fiber activity. The gamma efferent fibers originate in the spinal cord and terminate in specialized muscle fibers called the intrafusal fibers. Vigorous muscle contractions heighten the electrical activity between the muscle and the spinal cord. Impulses traveling from the spinal cord through the gamma fibers to the intrafusal fibers cause the muscle to contract. Contraction stretches an organ called the muscle spindle. Stretching of the muscle spindle results in reflex contractions of the muscle fibers. Constant muscle tension creates obstruction of the circulation resulting in ischemia (localized tissue anemia due to the obstruction of the inflow of arterial blood). The ischemia causes pain. Pain brings about reflex muscle activity and a vicious cycle called muscle spasm is born. Heating of the gamma fibers slows their transmission rate, which reduces the stimulation of the muscle spindle, allowing the muscle to relax. Heating the muscle tissue also causes an increase in circulation, thus breaking the cycle.
Reduction Of Edema--The physiological effects of ultrasound include an increase in the quantity of blood flowing through the capillaries and an increase in cell membrane and vascular wall permeability, all of which help in the reduction of edema, which is essential for rapid recovery from soft tissue injuries. An example of edema reduction involved a serious hematoma (a local swelling filled with blood) on a yearling's chest that was resolved in nine days with ultrasound therapy. In another case, edema involved with tendonitis was resolved by 70% with 10 days of ultrasound therapy.
Wound Healing--It has been observed that wound closure is significantly more rapid with ultrasound. Experimental evidence indicates that ultrasound can increase the rate of protein synthesis in fibroblasts, which are responsible for the repair of injured tissue. Studies of tendon repair indicate that the stage of the healing process in which ultrasound is applied is very important. Ultrasound applications begun too early in the repair process could actually retard healing. Ultrasound applied within the first two weeks of injury or surgical repair could hinder initiation of the healing process. On the other hand, ultrasound applied at low intensities two weeks after injury, when collagen formation and fibroblastic infiltrations has begun, can be beneficial.
What are the benefits of Ultrasound Therapy?
- Ultrasound Therapy increases blood flow in the treated area which speeds the healing process
- Ultrasound Therapy reduces swelling and edema which are the main sources of pain
- Ultrasound waves gently massage the muscles, tendons and/or ligaments in the treated area. This enhances the recovery rate of damaged tissue without adding strain
- Softens any scar tissue that is usually present in an injured area
- Relaxes muscle spasms
- Increases joint mobility
- Minimizes the effects of calcium deposits
How long are the Ultrasound Therapy sessions?
The Ultrasound Therapy sessions are approximately 10-20 minutes in length - depending on the area of treatment and severity of issue. Typically, more than one session is required to treat area.
Can other services be combined with Ultrasound Therapy sessions?
Absolutely! In fact we encourage you to combine other alternative services with Ultrasound Therapy.
Other services that can be combined with Ultrasound Therapy offered by HealthEquine Therapies:
Ultrasound Therapy can not be performed on:
- the head and eyes
- the uterus and testicles
- the heart area
- skin injury
- pregnant mares
- tumors or cancer
*A $25 fee will be invoiced to those who do not show up for their appointments or do not give at least 24 hour cancellation notice*
Please consult your veterinarian or medical physician for diagnosis and treatment of serious injuries or conditions.
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