• Suzannah Povey-White

Cold hosing – the gold standard in reducing foot pain

New study shows promising signs that cryotherapy can help reduce pain in laminitic horses.

A new study undertaken by the University of Queensland looked at alternative forms of analgesia for horses suffering with foot pain, specifically laminitis. Horses can tolerate their feet being much colder than humans, so researchers tested whether dramatic cooling of the lower limb precipitated in significant pain relief.

Laminitis, a disease affecting the sensitive laminae of the feet, affects 1 out of every 10 horses in the UK every year. We have an array of pharmacology to ease the pain in these situations, but pain relief always has contraindications, side effects and, isn’t instant. This research project looked at the alternative of using cryotherapy (cold therapy) in managing horse’s pain.

8 healthy Standardbred horses, without laminitis were used for the study. They were exposed to different temperatures of water, for differing lengths of time, and then their feet were tested for reactions (with a hoof tester) and the time and force delivered was noted. When skin surface temperature dropped below 7 °C there was ‘a rapid increase in the force needed to elicit a response’. To create skin surface temperatures of 7°C, water of 2°C was needed. ‘The results of this study suggest that hypothermia has potential to provide distal limb analgesia in horses at skin surface temperatures below 7 °C. Further evaluation of the technique is warranted.’

This research enables horse owners to proactively remove pain from their horses quickly and without complication having spoken to their vet and awaiting a visit or, as part of a pain-relief programme.

Full research can be found here


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