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Written by Els Smet
Posted in First Aid

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How and When to Use Cryotherapy

In a previous study it was outlined that cryotherapy or digital hypothermia was found to have a positive effect when applied during the developmental phase of laminitis. However, little information was given on how this should be done practically.

Considering that laminitis lesions are largely irreversible, it is logical that cryotherapy has most effect in the early phase and should therefore be started as soon as possible. The ideal application is between the cause and the appearance of lameness, which can vary from 18 to 72 hours in the carbohydrate overload models, or up to five days or more with other causes. Cryotherapy can be stopped between 24 to 48 hours after the resolution of clinical signs.

When applying cryotherapy, it is important to take note that hair and hoof significantly reduce the conduction of thermal energy. Commercially available devices are suitable for short-term applications, while a bucket of ice can also be used. Continuous cooling is shown to be most effective. Although therapeutic effects are already found with slight cooling, the best effect is found when the feet are cooled to achieve an internal temperature of less than 10 degrees Celcius. In order to effectively cool the lamellae, not only the hoof and its solar surface, but also the pastern, fetlock and cannon region should be cooled to have an effect on the incoming arterial blood. Overall, these are guidelines on how and when to use cryotherapy.

> From: van Eps, Equine Vet J 33 (2017) 878-879. All rights reserved to EVJ Ltd. Click here for the online summary.

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