Adrienne Tomkinson
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Understanding the Differing Therapies

Understanding the Differing Therapies

Magnetic therapy, Electromagnetic therapy, Hydrotherapy, Cryotherapy, Thermo-therapy, Electrotherapy, Vibration therapy, Light-therapy, … the list is endless of the different types of devices available to horse owners to manage and treat various conditions at home.  Each said device promises results from pain-free to a super horse. Then there’s the technical data to interpret.  Not to mention the often extravagant  prices that often accompany such devices (more expensive is better - isn’t it?), lets examine options.

Hydrotherapy, Cryotherapy and Thermo-therapy - sounds very scientific!!  Basically translated as Water Therapy, Cold/Ice therapy and Heat therapy.  When appropriately used, the outcomes of such basic techniques bring good results.

Tip 1 - Save yourself money and use good old fashioned techniques.  Think swimming, hosing with cold water or heat packs.  All of these therapies can be easily and cheaply replicated.  Common sense is imperative here and of course veterinarian advice is always recommended in case of injury or illness. There are of course many applications from ice boots to water treadmills; heat packs to solariums.  The question is - how big is your bank account?  


Magnetic therapy or Vibration therapy - though advanced, may not bring the desired results.  Research into vibration therapy shows that although horses enjoy the treatment, regeneration/recovery is not accelerated. Magnetic therapy has evidence of improved regeneration although this is not the ideal medium for muscles; better for ligaments and bones.

Tip 2 - In the application, be aware of ‘over-use’.  There is limited research into long term implications of excessive use.  Be aware that product claims that frequent use has no detriment - may not be supported by scientific evidence.


Electrotherapy - complicated due to variations in frequency (Hz). Connecting the horse to an electrical source will cause a reaction.  How does this affect the horse? Is it the correct frequency to stimulate the desired physiological change (for example wound healing?)

Tip 3 - Electrotherapy is a modality I only recommend for use by your veterinarian or experienced therapist.  There are too many unknown possibly detrimental factors and some devices have no positive effect. 


Light therapy - UV, Red light (Solarium), Infrared, Pulse light are on different wavelengths.  Infrared is typically a therapy utilised to penetrate deep into the body.  UV (light) and Red lights are superficial.  These warm and induce relaxation.

Tip 4 - Infrared is also a therapy I recommend leaving to the experts.  The benefits of relaxing under a Solarium cannot be underestimated and are recommended!  However exerciser caution.  If it is not suitable for humans then it is NOT suitable for animals.


If your horse has a problem that needs to be managed, talk to your veterinarian and therapist.  Seek their advice before you splurge on that expensive device!  Most common ailments can be managed with massage, mobilisation and basic water/cold/heat therapy.  However if your bank account is limitless (lucky you!!) -  then go right ahead and spoil yourself and your horse!!!



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