Science & Equine

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Written by Marly Coppens
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Effects of laser therapy compared to cortisone on arthritis

The aim of this study was to investigate the clinical effects of non-surgical defocalized carbon dioxide laser therapy compared with conventional intra-articular treatment (betamethasone and hyaluronan) on acute traumatic arthritis of the fetlock joint in horses. This pathology is normally treated successfully with cortisone injections. However, after intra-articular treatment adverse reactions and joint infection may occasionally occur. Previous research on laser therapy in humans indicate a positive effect on osteoarticular diseases and peri-arthritis.

This research included; an observer-blind study (10 sport horses - 10 joints), and a prospective study (180 sport horses - 333 joints). Selected joints were assessed by clinical observations, the flexion test and intra-articular anaesthesia. Radiographic and ultrasonographic examinations were performed to exclude lesions or chronic arthritis.

Joints were equally divided in either laser or drug group. Laser treatment was performed 3 times and duration time was 6 min for each side of the joint (class 4 laser, wavelength of 10 600 nm). Rest period before training was 21 days for the drug treated horses and only 7 days for the laser-group.

In the observer-blind study no difference between the two groups was found. In the prospective study, 80% of the laser-treated joints were recovered and 68% of the intra-articulair treated joints. The results of this study indicate laser therapy to be more effective than intra-articulair treatment in facilitating recovery from traumatic artritis. However, the biochemical functions related to laser treatment of joints are still mostly unknown.

> Lindholm et al., Journal of Veterinary Medicine, 2002 May; 49(4):189-94. All rights reserved to 2002 Blackwell Verlag. Click here for the Pubmed summary

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