Comparison Therapy Modalities

Comparison to Pharmaceutical Relaxants

This form of therapy works via the entire nervous system and is indicated in cases of entire body muscle seizure as in a traumatic accident or shock;however, depressing the horse’s entire nervous system is contraindicated in addressing specific muscle problems. Drug therapy can relax a general muscle mass, but since it affects the contraction as well as the release processes of the muscles, it diminishes the horse’s overall strength and capability.Though necessary in cases following acute trauma, as a treatment modality in chronic situations, it is often ineffective.

Comparison to Electrical Stimulation

Electrical Stimulation devices work by adding contraction to a muscle that already cannot find release. This may not be the best way to release muscle spasms. These devices can be useful for low levels of pain relief, for neuromuscular diagnosis, and for exercising a muscle with deficient nerve impulse
(nerve damage).

Comparison to Thermotherapy & Heat

Applied to a wide area, heat application is not accurate and is carried away by the bloodstream. It has neither depth nor durability and cannot affect deep tissue. The best use for this therapy is to relax a general area which affects the nerve endings and may bring some temporary comfort to a horse.

Comparison to Cold Hydrotherapy & Cryotherapy

Because the body always tries to maintain a steady body temperature, icing an area will actually produce increased circulation after several minutes of initial vasoconstriction. After acute trauma, it is the treatment of choice to stop hemorrhaging, reduce pain and keep swelling to a minimum. After this initial physiological function, other modalities are more efficient and effective in treatment.

Comparison to Magnetic Therapy

Studies show that the magnetic field produced by even the strongest magnet cannot and does not penetrate more than a fraction of an inch below the skin layer, making them ineffectual against deep muscle problems.


Rest is extremely important after acute injury; however, there are times when it becomes counterproductive. This is because resting and immobilization allow a spasm to become permanent. Muscle strength diminishes significantly after two weeks of stall rest and joints become stiff from lack of movement.In addition, confinement can be mentally taxing on a horse, resulting in spasms due to tension and stress.

Equine Chiropractic Treatments

High Velocity Thrust (HVT) deals with subluxations of the skeletal structure and facilitating normal space between joints, therefore enhancing joint function. Much benefit in the way of relieving pressure on the nerves, can be derived from chiropractic adjustments, when the situation calls for it.Though the muscles may derive some relief when treated by this method, equine chiropractic cannot relieve muscle spasms or knotted fascia and is not the best treatment for such situations. In addition, HVT has proven to cause muscle and fascial tearing, which may cause soreness and inflammation in a horse. This is why the technique must be done by a fully trained and experienced practitioner and why several states, will only allow licensed veterinarians to perform Equine Chiropractic.

Muscles have two primary jobs; either to hold bones together (static) or move them (dynamic). If a vertebral or joint misalignment has existed for anylength of time, the muscles will have memorized an “incorrect” setting. After chiropractic adjustment, these muscles do not automatically “right”themselves. Unless the muscles involved are released so that “correct” muscle memory can be reestablished, chiropractic adjustment will usually not hold. Hypertonic muscles will simply pull the horse out of alignment again.

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