|Posted on January 4, 2017 at 10:45 PM|
Hot and cold therapies are most effective at healing when applied at the appropriate stage of an injury to muscles, soft tissues, ligaments or tendons.
An injury less than 36 hours old begins to swell and bruise. Left untreated this process can damage uninjured tissues. At this stage applying cold therapy helps to control the inflammation which can cause more damage. Cold therapy causes vasoconstriction (causes the blood vessels to constrict) which helps stop bleeding and bruising. When applied to an injury early enough, cold therapy can shorten recovery time and minimize further tissue damage.
After 36 hours have passed, the swelling should slow and the injury will show distinct edges. The injury will start to become slightly firmer. At this point alternating between cold and hot therapy can start the healing process. Heat encourages circulation and cold prevents new swelling.
As the injury improves the swelling will dissipate while there may still be stiffness and discomfort. At this point heat therapy encourages increased circulation so that your horse's body may quickly repair the damage and remove waste from the affected area.
This advice should not be used as a substitute for professional evaluation by your veterinarian.