Laminitis is a common condition that affects 1 in 10 horses/ponies every year. Cryotherapy is known to help relieve the symptoms of the condition and stimulate recovery. Research also shows that cryotherapy can help prevent the condition from developing in healthy horses.
What is laminitis?
Laminitis is when a horse’s sensitive laminae tissues are damaged and inflamed. These are the folded layers of tissue that sit between the hoof and the underlying coffin bone. The sensitive laminae form a strong bond to support the pedal bone within the hoof. Laminitis is when the sensitive laminae stretch and weaken causing the pedal bone to move within the hoof.
There are many causes of laminitis such as inflammatory diseases, hormonal diseases, mechanical overload, high intake of soluble carbohydrates (sugars and starch), stress, severe infections, obesity, and concussion.
Subtle signs of a horse suffering from laminitis are:
- Reluctance to turn around or walk/move feet
- Shortened stride or stiffened gait
- Shifts weight from foot to foot
- Change in the behavior of the horse
- Abnormal hoof wall or coronet
In extreme cases, as the sensitive laminae begin to die, the pedal bone can rotate and/or drop through the sole of the hoof which is very painful. It is important that the cause of the disease is identified and treatment is started as soon as early signs are seen.
Using INSTANTCRYO™, cryotherapy can be applied on horses to aid in the management and prevention of laminitis in an easy, hassle-free and safe way.
Regular treatments on lower limbs, in conjunction with prescribed medicine, will help horses who suffer from subclinical, acute, or chronic laminitis, or prevent development of the condition in a healthy horse.
How does cryotherapy help?
In a horse suffering from laminitis, the blood flow to the laminae tissue is reduced and the tissue is starved of oxygen and nutrients. The cells become damaged and inflammation, swelling, and pain are felt. An INSTANTCRYO™ treatment reduces the skin surface temperature down to 39°F (4°C) within 30 seconds. The physiological responses that the cold triggers help with the symptoms of laminitis in various ways:
- Initial rapid vasoconstriction. When the skin is cooled, blood vessels constrict blood to the affected area is restricted preventing waste fluid, white blood cells, and other chemicals from causing inflammation from entering the damaged tissues. This significantly decreases the swelling and edema and pain.
- Production of anti-inflammatory cytokines is increased. Chemicals that help reduce inflammation enter the affected area and the production of certain pro-inflammatory cytokines is reduced.
- Reduced nerve conduction velocity. The extreme cold and high pressure of INSTANTCRYO™ treatments cool the nociceptors (nerve endings found in the horse’s skin that detect pain). This slows down the speed of nerve conduction and as a result, fewer pain signals are sent to the brain. The pain threshold is increased and less pain is experienced by the horse.
- Lymphatic system is enhanced. Poor lymphatic drainage can lead to Lymphangitis. Cryotherapy treatments increase lymphatic drainage because the extreme cold triggers the lymph vessels to contract more meaning more waste and excess fluids are removed. This significantly reduces the risk of healthy horses developing laminitis and helps laminitis horses recover quicker.
- Rapid vasodilation. As the skin surface warms back up after treatment, blood vessels begin to widen. Blood containing fresh oxygen and key nutrients needed for tissue recovery floods into the damaged laminae.
Many INSTANTCRYO™ users have seen the benefits of applying cryotherapy treatments to lame horses. After purchasing a device, specific treatment protocols are provided on how best to use INSTANTCRYO™ in the treatment of laminitis, as well as for preventative care.