Equine Physiotherapy Under Sedation for Pain & Muscle Spasms Relief (post Sacroiliac Strain)

14th December 2009: Richard The Vet and Anna the Physio performing physio manipulation under sedation on Kingsley, a 6 year old ISH gelding

Yesterday I wrote about kinesio taping for rehabilitation after sacroiliac strain. While searching my old diary for the notes to include in the said post I found the above photo which I thought deserved to be shared 🙂

The vet, Richard Gillatt of McGonnell & Gillatt Veterinary Practice, was the one who carried out the SI cortisone injections on Kingsley and later worked together with Anna Johnson to help with the horse‘s rehabilitation programme.

We’ve done this funny looking procedure three times over several months. Kingsley was a very easy going patient throughout. The reason for undertaking physiotherapy under sedation in his case was to relieve him from muscle spasms by achieving full range of movement in targeted joints.

The problem with Sacroliac strain as with many other musculoskeletal issues is that they don’t simply affect a small part of the horse’s body. As Kingsley’s discomfort progressed he developed locomotion which further strained muscles along his back and poll area. He used his hind legs unevenly loading them differently to a healthy horse.

Sedation is said to relax the guarding muscles that acquired unnatural tension or compensatory action due to protective use. In Kingsley’s case, the physiotherapy had a very good effect on neck, back and poll pain as well as on reducing the reaction to palpation of the SI joint presumably helping with movement symmetry.

waking up
Waking up slowly post sedation

Having said that the method had a positive outcome in case of this particular horse when used on those particular issues, I must mention, that when it was first suggested I did as much research as I could on this online and found decent amount of negative opinions…I trusted the Vet and the Physio who carried out the procedure and it did help with suppleness, poll issues etc as I mentioned but since the horse isn’t able to protect himself by stopping the movement I can see how this method can go very wrong.

I would personally always prefer the non-sedation physiotherapy simply on the basis of my current (admittedly limited so stand to be corrected) physio knowledge because although it might take many sessions to truly help, it does give the horse a chance to “say” something is not being moved in the right direction.

Have you ever had it done on your horse? What was the effect?

One thought on “Equine Physiotherapy Under Sedation for Pain & Muscle Spasms Relief (post Sacroiliac Strain)”

  1. My TB with an old back injury appreciates body work, so I was able to persuade him we should give this move a try as he has had some persistent subluxation in his poll and atlas vertebra. He was cooperative, his neck made a whole lot of noise, and now he is doing a lot less head tossing and bracing when he moves. It is possible to get the benefits without the risks of sedation, if you can communicate with the horse…

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