This image shows the shoe used with the screw applied to induce lameness.

Cryotherapy’s Role in Helping Lame Horses

Researchers examine cryotherapy’s analgesic effects with study of horses with induced lameness

Article last updated: April 1, 2021

Standing a horse in a cold creek was an old horseman’s remedy. Times have changed since this early iteration of cryotherapy, as today we have advanced products to provide the same treatment in clinical and field settings through more controlled and effective processes. Researchers also are continually advancing our understanding of this practice, moving it far beyond an anecdotal remedy.

One area of cryotherapy in need of greater understanding with horses is whether it provides an analgesic effect. Recently, researchers undertook a study to non-invasively measure whether it reduces pain associated with lameness. Dr. Vivian Quam of Ohio State University (OSU) and one of the researchers, presented their findings at the 2019 American Association of Equine Professionals Convention in Denver this past December.

Methods and Treatment

Quam credits the genesis of this study was prompted by questions raised by Dr. James Belknap throughout his career. Now faculty emeritus at OSU, the Hall of Fame veterinarian also is one of the research paper’s authors, and this study was funded by OSU and the Ohio State Racing Commission.

Cryotherapy is well known for its therapeutic benefit in the prevention and treatment of laminitis. Evidence shows that it decreases inflammation and can prevent tissue injury in that disease process. Research in other species has shown cryotherapy to be beneficial as an analgesic. The researchers set out to see whether analgesic effects could be monitored in the horse. For this project, they would give a horse 60…

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Jeremy mcgovern

Jeremy McGovern

Jeremy McGovern is the former Executive Editor/Publisher. A native of Indiana, he also is president of American Horse Publications.

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