Because of its effects on circulation, metabolism and nerves, heat plays a vital role in the rehabilitation of chronic injuries. Such injuries, defined as having symptoms that persist or develop over time, present a special challenge to diagnose and to treat in horses.
Horses can adapt and compensate by shifting weight from the injured area to another limb; unfortunately, this results in more strain on other parts of the body. When these compensatory changes exhaust the supporting structures, atrophy and lameness develop from disuse of the painful area.
In the hands of a trained therapist, ultrasound can be effective for providing heat to deep tissues.
With chronic injuries, it is essential to address the cause of pain and dysfunction, not just the symptoms. Among the types of injuries and conditions which can benefit from heat therapy are: