Equine physiotherapy is not solely for an elite competition horse.
Whether you are hacking, pony club, endurance, schooling, showing, eventing and dressage or simply a companion, having symmetrical muscle bulk, quality range of movement in joints and improved muscle strength enables your horse to feel and perform their best. This is where equine physiotherapy can be a real benefit to your horse.
Reciprocal inhibition technique is our most commonly used treatment of choice for restoration of normal muscle tone. Muscle spasm identified during a thorough process of palpation can be effectively reduced by applying this technique. It works by stimulation of the golgi tendon organ of the agonist muscle via a specific movement performed by the physiotherapist. This produces in an involuntary contraction of the muscle, initiating an involuntary relaxation of the opposing antagonist muscle and therefore reducing muscle tone back to resting length.
Trigger point release
Trigger point release involves the application of controlled pressure performed by the physiotherapist to areas of increased tone (trigger points) within the muscle belly. This sustained pressure results in a moment of ischemia so that a resurgence of local blood flow will occur upon release, increasing the efficiency of nutritional transportation and cell modulation. When used in combination with reciprocal inhibition, trigger point release is extremely effective and produces a noticeable change to muscle tone in one treatment. Horses also tolerate this very well and this may be the treatment of choice for nervous or anxious horses.
In human physiotherapy, the management of myofascial is becoming increasingly documented. Adhesions, scarring and tears in fascial connections have been shown to reduce range of movement, increase neural tension, compress vascular structures and cause pain. We offer solutions where fascial restriction may cause pain and reduced range in horses. Using a combination of the above techniques, in addition to mobilisations of supporting joint structures, frictions and stretching we can reduce the viscosity of hyaluronic acid between layers of fascia to break down collagen adhesions and encourage efficiency of cell transportation.
Joint mobility depends on how freely it can move through range, which is crucial for effective movement. Problems occur when joints either become too stiff or too mobile, effecting the balance between joint MOBILITY and joint STABILITY. Following a process of palpation and joint mobilisation the physiotherapist will identify joints that are either too stiff or hypermobile.
Immobile joints can be moved passively according to their angle and location using Maitland mobilisations, a graded series of joint movements that restore joint function. This treatment is used extensively in human physiotherapy.
For joints that are hypermobile we may prescribe suitable corrective exercises to stabilise the joints. If not corrected, joint instabilities can lead to ligamentous strain, poor muscle activation and reduced optimal movement.
Transcutaneous electrical neural stimulation
TENS is a well-known treatment modality in human practice for pain reduction. We can also use this for pain in the horse. TENS is useful in the early stages of post-operative rehabilitation or when it is too early to use other forms of treatment. The service also offers TENS machine hire following full assessment and owner training.
As chartered human physiotherapists, we are skilled in the prescription of graded exercise in appreciation of healing rates and tissue responses. We are able to transfer this skill to our equine clients. This is especially useful in post-operative rehabilitation and also encourages owner responsibility and effective long term management. We offer tailor made equine physiotherapy exercise programs following referral and assessment that allow the owner to have a structured day to day routine.
Neuro Muscular Electro Stimulation (NMES)
Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) is a non-invasive means of muscle rehabilitation after injury, surgery or disease. The device applies customised electrical stimulus to a specific muscle or muscle group to cause contraction. The physiotherapist is able to correctly select a suitable frequency, application time and application location in order to facilitate the action of the muscle.
For orthopaedic problems, NMES is useful for reducing muscle atrophy, restoring joint mobility and pain reduction. NMES is also effective in the process of post-operative rehabilitation when trying to increase proprioception and neuromuscular activity. All functions require variations of applications sourced from well documented, published research in both human and equine practice. NMES is only available as a multiple appointment package and is not available as a single appointment/ treatment.