To properly understand how the low temperature hydrotherapy of Equine Spas works we need to review how the body reacts to the trauma of
strains, cuts and bruises. When soft tissue is injured through a cut, tear or by concussive trauma the body releases enzymes and proteins
causing the blood vessel walls in that vicinity to dilate and become more porous.
Lymphocytes are directed to the site of the trauma passing through the porous membranes and entering the injured tissues to begin fighting the infection. The extra fluids, carrying the oxygen and proteins for tissue repair, pool around the injured area causing edema or swelling which helps to immobilise the injury. Tissue damage also triggers the secretion of hormones which cause much of the pain the horse feels in order to prevent overuse of the affected limb. Additionally, the increased blood flow to the site of the injury results in a rise in temperature in the tissues in that vicinity.
The three main symptoms of inflammation, namely pain, heat, and swelling, occur in varying degrees depending on the site, nature, and severity of the injury. The downside of inflammation is that it may rage out of control and hinder the healing process resulting in secondary tissue damage or hypoxic injury, which can compound the problem. In addition, blood vessels in the area are put under increasing pressure by the fluid build-up, thereby slowing down the flow of blood and lymphatic fluid.
The safest way to break the destructive cycle of secondary cell injury and excess swelling is to use the horse’s circulatory system to sweep away excess fluids that have collected in the tissues.
While anti-inflammatory agents such as bute reduce swelling and heat, they may also mask pain confusing the diagnostic picture. Also, the use of corticosteroids to control heat and inflammation may have the disadvantage of shutting down the whole healing process.