Why Post Operative Massage for Equines can Work Wonders

If your horse, mule or donkey requires surgery, you may wish to consider postoperative massage for it.

Many veterinarians have begun to incorporate massage therapy into their recovery protocols as an effective way to aid in recovery and pain regulation for both acute and chronic issues.

Pain and tension interfere with the body’s ability to recover and will extend recovery time. Reducing pain and improving comfort will help your patient recover more easily.

Certified Massage therapists are specially trained to work on soft tissues to improve circulation, lymph drainage, and release endorphins to reduce discomfort and pain.

A massage will help relax a horse into the optimal healing para-sympathetic state. This state will help restore healthier digestion and motility and decrease stress, anxiety and the perception of pain.

A massage will also help reduce stress induced behaviors such as stall-walking, weaving and cribbing, all of which put unwanted wear and tear on a horse and deplete valuable healing resources.

Even with animals that don’t at first welcome hands-on healing, can learn to relax and appreciate massage when it is delivered with care and respect for the patient’s individual physical and emotional receptivity.

While there is limited veterinary clinical research on massage, several studies have been done in humans recovering from surgery. For example, five minutes of massage to each hand and foot significantly lowered the perception and distress resulting from pain in patients after surgical intervention, with an average of 53% less pain being reported.

For horses that need pain medications, adding in massage may reduce the amount of drugs needed and so lessen the risk and intensity of possible adverse effects such as ulcers and colic.

Recognizing that more needs to be done to control pain in the postoperative period beyond drugs and anesthesia, researchers at the Mayo Clinic performed a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effects of postoperative massage for patients after abdominal colorectal surgery. They monitored vital signs and evaluated psychological well-being before and after surgery, looking at measures such as pain, tension, anxiety, relaxation and satisfaction with care.

They found that 20 minutes of postoperative massage provided patients substantial relief from both pain and anxiety. This positive impact on patients led to changes in practice in the hospital. The study’s authors wrote: “Since the completion of this study, massage therapy has been made available to all patients at the medical center. It is now a valued part of the standard offerings to address pain and anxiety. In addition, massage therapists from other institutions have attended training programs at Mayo Clinic to enable them to create best practices for massage therapy at their own hospitals.”

You might consider post operative surgery for your own horse after one of the following procedures;

  1. Colic surgery
  2. Castration or ovariectomy
  3. Stifle surgery
  4. OCD or bone chip removal
  5. Trauma repair
  6. Sarcoids or Melanoma removal
  7. Tendon and ligament injury
  8. Joint arthritis, including post injection
  9. Eye surgery
  10. Tie-back surgery

Interested equine owners can also learn a few useful, low-risk techniques from their equine massage therapist that will help support the recovery and comfort of their animal.

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