It wasn’t long ago that the only prescription for healing soft tissue damage in horses—like injuries to the superficial digital flexor tendon—was rest, rest, and more rest.
Advances in technology have led to new treatments for common equine injuries affecting the tendons and ligaments.
One method is stem cell therapy, which involves injecting cultured stem cells (from fat or bone marrow) into the injury site to trigger regeneration of tendon or ligament cells. Similarly, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy uses injections of concentrated blood platelets taken from the horse’s own blood to spur healing.
While these and other injection treatments have value, they’re often expensive, and they’re not always the optimal solution. Tendons and ligaments are complex structures that need time to heal.
There are less expensive non-injection treatments that can help promote healing. First, keep inflammation under control by chilling the injured site with cold-water hosing, wrapping the leg (with or without a poultice) to reduce swelling, and using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Then, consider these additional non-injection therapies:
- 1. Shockwave therapy: This non-invasive therapy uses a pain-free pulse wave to naturally decrease inflammation. Shockwave therapy should be administered by a qualified veterinarian.
- 2. Vibration therapy: Vibration therapy is a powerful rehabilitation tool used by equestrians and veterinarians around the world. Research by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Uppsala found that just 10 minutes of vibration therapy a day for 10 days can increase bone density (human study) and improve muscle power, blood circulation, acceleration, and flexibility in horses. Vitafloor’s horse vibration plates help horses recover faster from injuries and improve their performance.
- 3. Laser treatments: Research has shown that laser therapy effectively reduces swelling and encourages healing of injured tendons and ligaments by increasing blood flow to the injured area.
- 4. Therapeutic ultrasound: This therapy uses low-frequency soundwaves to reduce inflammation and encourage tissue regeneration.
- 5. Electrical stimulation: This therapy uses low-voltage intermittent stimulation delivered via electrodes applied directly to the horse’s skin. The electrical pulses release endorphins, which increase circulation and stimulate healing. Veterinarians often use electrical stimulation and ultrasound side by side.
Tendon and ligament injuries typically heal on their own with time—that’s why allowing your horse adequate rest is so important. But if you need to get your horse back into performance condition sooner, these therapies may give him a boost.
The important thing is not to push your horse’s body beyond what it’s capable of. Always consult with a veterinarian to determine the best treatment plan, based on your horse’s age, job, and other factors.
Help Your Horse Heal with the Right Equipment
Vitafloor pioneered the first equine vibration plate system to help horses recover faster from injuries and improve their performance. At Vitafloor USA, you’ll find top-of-the-line horse exercisers, horse vibration plates, saddle pads, and other equine exercise equipment and horse accessories designed to keep your horses competitive, fit, and healthy. Browse our online shop to see our complete line of quality products.