Cold Therapy is one of the most effective methods of alleviating soft tissue aches and pains. It can also aid the healing of musculoskeletal injuries both old and new, and can help to prevent them.
Cold treatment has an analgesic effect, which means it numbs the tissue. This brings instant relief to the horse. When soft tissue is damaged, the blood vessels leak fluid into the surrounding tissues. This leads to an inflammatory response, leading to swelling and pain. Cooling these tissues at a new injury site causes blood vessels to constrict, limiting the leakage that leads to inflammation. Reducing the temperature of the tissue itself also reduces the metabolic rate helping it to survive.
With an older injury, it’s the return of the blood to the area after the cold is removed that is most useful. The renewed circulation brings a new flurry of white blood cells and natural chemicals to the area that helps destroy dead cells. This cycle of cooling and warming at intervals helps generate a pumping action in the tissue that can encourage and speed healing.