NYEF has an ECB Equine Spa that uses saltwater therapy combined with massaging jets. This form of therapy is extremely beneficial and revitalizing to the horse. The cold water constricts the capillaries, reducing inflammation by slowing the vasodilation that brings fluids, proteins and fibrinogen to the injured area. Since too much of these “helpful” substances can cause hypoxia, it is good to limit them. The saltwater reduces the pain transmission since nerve responses are slowed by the cold. This combined therapy also stimulates blood flow and lymphatic drainage in the skin and superficial tissues by massaging the area. The use of cold therapy is the most effective within the first 48 hours following the injury, and then through supportive care throughout the duration of recovery. It is also useful in reducing post-training/competition inflammation and swelling because the massage jets increase circulation and relax sore muscles.
The Therapeutic Effects
The list of therapeutic effects of the ECB Equine Spa at NYEF are detailed below for your reference.
ECB Spa solution is maintained between 2 and 4 °c (35 f), to minimise heat and inflammation. This provides analgesic pain management as well as inhibiting enzyme degeneration of tendons post injury.
The ECB salt solution acts as a hypertonic poultice as well as having a natural healing effect on wounds. Water density increases with salt concentration, which in turn increases pressure to aid fluid and waste dispersal.
Water aeration has a massaging effect on the leg and increases the dissolved oxygen content of the spa solution.
The depth of the water is proportional to the pressure exerted on the leg which aids fluid and waste dispersal; this can be varied according to position and severity of injury.
With water hygiene levels continually being maintained with a combination of fine filtration, chlorination, cold water and salt, the ECB Spa allows thousands of successive treatments. These same factors not only prevent further micro-biological infections but actually help treat any pre-existing conditions.
Water at temperatures below 6 °c (48 f) has a higher ability to carry oxygen and with the ECB solution also being aerated, the oxygen content is increased dramatically. It is believed that the Spa has similar effects on internal leg injuries to the use of hyperbaric chambers in humans; and with topical wounds, re-oxygenation allows phagocytosis and other natural defence mechanisms to intensify in their therapy.ify in their therapy. and other host defence mechanisms to intensify in their therapy.
The therapeutic factors of cold salt hydrotherapy can be used to treat any cause of inflammation within the tissues of the lower legs.
The ECB Equine Spa at NYEF can treat a range of injuries as well as help in preventative care and maintenance for your performance horse.
Cold salt hydotherapy treatment can be used for all forms of lower leg inflammation, removing the painful fluid swellings associated with injury.
Tendonitis: Injury to Superficial digital flexor, Check ligament, Deep digital flexor
Tendonitis is one of the principal injuries associated with performance horses as often repair is not fully successful. For example, initial injury may start as a bruise or strain to the collagen fibres which then become inflamed and further deteriorate under the influence of collagenase. In repair new collagen fibres form but often form cross links due to lingering swelling which are weak and re-injure. Cold hydrotherapy treatment minimizes the effect of collegenase by keeping the leg temperature lower; and by reducing the swelling, allows collagen fibres to repair neatly.
Suspensory strain or tear
The suspensory apparatus supports the lower leg through attachment to the bones and injury is common when horses slip or twist the leg or where over extension of the fetlock occurs regularly during exercise. Injury of the ligament could occur in a similar manner to tendonitis or ligament separation from bone may result in intense inflammation and pain. Repair is slow and replacement collagen must form correctly to prevent re-injury, hence the importance to keep swelling down for straight collagen repair.
Injury to Fetlock and pastern, Knee and hock, coffin joint
Bone provides the living scaffold for movement and injury can result in degeneration of bone and joint tissue with a weakening of the bone structure. Inflammation results in swelling and pain and unless the progressive changes are stopped deterioration will continue to worsen with concussion.
Over reach, Abscesses, Stone Bruise, Corns, Laminitis or Founder, Thrush, Nail Prick
All the different structures that go to make up the hoof can be injured either from concussion, trauma, shoeing or nutrition. Each form results in its own type of inflammation sometimes with associated infection. Cold poultice treatment to the hoof has been a traditional therapy and the spa improves this process in the above injury types.
Sore shins, Bucked shins
During exercise, pressure on the digital extensor tendon sheath down the front of the cannon bone, can cause the attachment of the sheath to the bone to lift in young horses. As exercise increases, the inflammation worsens with fluid separating the sheath and bone further. Spa treatment minimizes the inflammation.
Concussion soreness is a common result where horses work on hard surfaces after lead up exercise on softer going. This may result from a change in the going on grass tracks or change from all weather surfaces to firmer going in racehorses. The bone tissues are stressed and inflammation commences throughout the bones without showing signs of fluid or swelling.
Bursitis / Synovitis:
Swollen joints, Wind galls or wind puffs
Result where stress injury develops in the tissues surrounding joints and ligaments. The synovial membranes produce excess fluid causing the joint or tendon sheaths to swell.
Open Wounds and skin infections:
Dermatitis, Greasy heel / Mud Fever / Rain Scald
Skin Infection all commence with abrasion to skin cells which then allow entry of various micro-organisms resulting in inflammation. Both inflammation and the micro-organic cause require elimination and cold water hydrotherapy speed this process with the salt content of the water acting as a poultice. Many of the artificial surfaces that horses work on are abrasive and can irritate skin on lower leg.
Normally the healing of these injuries may be prolonged with new tissue type being weak and prone to re-injury. Spa treatments resolve injuries faster in two ways; firstly, by keeping the leg temperature lower it minimises the effect of fibre deteriorating collegenase; and secondly by reducing the swelling, it allows collagen fibres to repair neatly.
This reduced convalescence time is beneficial for the horse and all connections, however the perfect situation to utilise cold water hydrotherapy is within:
Prevention is always better than cure. By regular use of cold therapy immediately after hard exercise, many of the stressors within tissues are removed before inflammation develops. Cold also significantly improves surface bone density reducing the opportunity for bone stress related injuries to commence.
For more detailed information you can download ECB’s Case Studies.