Alice Darby Veterinary Physiotherapy
BSc. MSc. Vet Phys. MNAVP. RAMP registered. BHSAI

Fully insured Veterinary Physiotherapist covering Somerset, Dorset and Wiltshire

Manual Therapy

The musculoskeletal map
If you take a look at equine musculoskeletal system you can see not only the large array of bones and joints that make up the skeleton but also the many muscles, tendons and ligaments that play roles in both stabilising and creating movement. As therapists assessing the horse for symmetry is an important part of our treatment, taking into consideration conformation, management, potential or previous injury. 
Manual therapy includes all massage, stretching and mobilisation techniques which will be tailored to your animal’s individual needs it makes up a large proportion of a physiotherapy treatment, including fine and in depth palpation of muscles, function, pain and symmetry assessments. Physiotherapists address pain, function and symmetry by using a variety of massage techniques, targeted stretching, and manipulation of muscles, myofascial release, electrotherapies and exercise programs to ensure a long term resolution. Some animals may require a course of treatment to address initial asymmetry whilst muscle memory and movement patterns are adapted.
Asymmetry arises from over or under use of specific areas and resulting shortening or lengthening of soft tissues: muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia… If you can remember that muscle moves bone then things start to become a little clearer. These responses can arise from a multitude of things from current or previous pain memory, an underlying veterinary condition, a fall or slip in the field, bad saddle fit, conformation or uneven ridden stresses.
Therapists use specific anatomical landmarks to assess symmetry, something that takes much training and practice.
Electrotherapies are often used after manual treatment to target specific tissue response, offer pain relief, greater and longer term results. In some cases it is beneficial to use electrotherapies first and provides a great tool box to keep animals comfortable and happy to comply with treatment.

Conformation impacts load bearing which directly influences the function of the musculoskeletal system, this results in compensations that can be felt throughout the body.