Friday, 1 September 2017

What happens when your horse injures himself?

Over the last few weeks I have been blogging about different types of therapies and how they can be used to treat injury.  Today I thought we would start looking in more detail at what happens when your horse injures himself.

When a horse injures himself or herself, either with a cut or tear through tissue (eg: the skin or muscle), or a knock causing bruising, it results in cell damage.  (Cells make up virtually all living things.)  When cells are injured they release enzymes and proteins which send messages to the lymphocytes or  white blood cells, which fight infection,  to come to the damaged area.  The proteins and enzymes also cause the walls of blood vessels in the damaged area to become more porous.  This allows the lymphocytes to pass through the walls to enter the injured tissue and begin to fight any infection. Blood will also rush to the area carrying oxygen and proteins needed to repair the damaged tissue.  When cells are damaged it also triggers prostaglandins to be released and these are the hormones responsible for feeling pain.  

This response is the immune system reacting to damage and is a NATURAL response.  It results in inflammation or swelling of the injured area and is often our first indication that something is wrong.  

The 3 symptoms of inflammation which I have mentioned in some of my therapy blogs are pain, heat and swelling.  How much of these symptoms are seen (or felt) will depend on the injury and where it is. 
These symptoms have a purpose; pain lets the horse know that there is a problem and that they must not use the damaged area.  The swelling helps to immobilise the area and heat tells us that there is increased blood flow to the area.

Unfortunately, inflammation can become a problem if it is out of control and can affect the healing process.  This is because excess fluid (blood and lymph) can make it difficult for undamaged cells in the damaged area to get enough oxygen which means these cells will die too.  The fluid build up also puts extra pressure on the blood vessels in the area and this can result in a slow down of the flow of blood and lymph.

Treating the area with heat and/or cold will stimulate the circulatory system to take away the excess fluid.  This is the basis of many therapies!  

Have you seen Wednesday's video 'My Autumn Horsey Healthcheck'  on my You Tube channel?   

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Until next time!


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