Horse Health

Treating equine pain with heat and cold

In the case of less severe conditions, heat and cold treatments can be applied to reduce the inflammation and pain. Generally speaking, cold will reduce inflammation and heat will reduce pain.

The application of ice is effective at numbing an area. However, it should not be applied for more than 20 minutes at a time and a layer should always be placed between the ice and the skin to prevent cold burns.

Cold hosing can be tolerated for longer time periods and is considered safer than the application of ice packs. Both have their place in the management of acute wounds.

Heat compresses are particularly useful when an area needs to be allowed to expand. For example, in the case of an abscess, heat will soften the local tissue allowing it to expand outwards. The abscess cavity will then increase in size, reducing the pressure and consequently the pain. It also helps the abscess to point encouraging it to burst.