Physiotherapy techniques in animals

They are the group of therapies that use heat to promote the restoration of injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.
Continuous ultrasound is the most used, the tissue temperature increases locally, and has an anti-inflammatory and defibrillating effect. Microwave and shortwave can be used as well. Various equestrian centers have rooms with infrared, the heating effect of the infrared light is very superficial.
The ultrasound used in physical therapy can vary from 0.5 to 3 MHz depending on the depth at which we would want it to work; 0.5-1 MHz ultrasound can reach 8-12 cm deep.
Ultrasound emissions can damage tissues treated if they are not used properly, can cause severe burns and irritate the periosteal which is a particularly sensitive ultrasonic beam structure. Ultrasounds are used to treat fibrosis, tendinitis, bursitis, traumatic swellings, muscle injuries ...

Electrical Stimulation
We can use muscle stimulators to work specific muscle groups that, whether partially unnerved or keeping its function intact, have lost contractile capacity and strength for various reasons.

Antalgic Current

Different waveforms exist functioning as various current groups with analgesic effects. We can distinguish between Russian Stimulating Currents, Traëbert currents, Faradica current, interferential current or TENS (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), the most commonly used at the moment.
The mechanism of action varies depending on the parameters used: intensity, frequency, amplitude. We can act by stimulating the generation of endorphins levels systemically (increased to 22%) or by the Gate Control System mechanism. The analgesic currents used in pain in the back or limbs or muscle spasms.

There are different types of low intensity lasers, “Low Energy Laser Therapy” (LELT), depending on the diode that produces the polarization of the light beam. Presently there is controversy over the depth reached by the beam and the physiological effects on tissues; the scaring and analgesic effect of the laser determine their main applications: wound healing, tendon repair ...

Recently, a high intensity laser has been developed, a new concept of laser that, in this case, is of type IV, a hundred times more potent than a low level laser and has opened the door to new therapies for tendon and ligament repair.

The effectiveness of magneto therapy on soft tissue is questionable, even so, magnetic blankets are used to relax the muscles preparing them for competition, increase trophism, ...
The beneficial effect it has on delayed union bone healing are much more evident in the scientific literature; magneto therapy is a good solution for pseudo-arthritis problems, decalcification or fractures not healing quickly.

Applying ice, as much in the acute and subacute as in the chronic phase, is one of the most widely used therapies by physiotherapists for their substantial anti-inflammatory and hyperaemic potential.
In any acute traumatic inflammatory process, applying ice for 20-30 minutes every two hours prevents edema from forming in the area. There are specific tools that greatly facilitate the application of cryotherapy on dogs.

Manual Therapy
Stretching and massage are classic examples of manual therapeutic tools used by physiotherapists to reduce muscle tension, contractures, increase muscle trophism, reduce fatigue, prevent muscular-tendonitis injuries, help drain venous or lymphatic stases processes, etc.
Exercises, hydrotherapy and thalassotherapy (bathing in the sea), the use of weights, bandages ... are other examples of manual therapeutic techniques.

List of Most Common Pathologies in Canine and Feline Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation
The most common musculoskeletal pathologies that can be treated with physiotherapy and rehabilitation in young, adult and older canines and felines are:

1 - In backbone:

  • Fractures

  • Listhesis

  • Discopathies

  • Disc Protusion

  • Paresis

  • Tetraplegia

  • Wobbler's Syndrome

  • Cauda Equina Syndrome

2 -In front limbs:


  • Dislocation

  • Osteochondritis dissecans of the humeral

  • Bicipital tenosynovitis

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Peripheral neurological lesions


  • Anconeal Process

  • Coronoid process

  • Dislocation

  • Osteochondritis

  • Osteoarthritis


  • Traumatic injuries

  • Carpal hyperextension

  • Ligamentous injuries

3 -In hindlimbs:


  • Pelvic osteotomy

  • Osteotomy femoral head and neck

  • Hip dislocation reduction

  • Hip replacement

  • Hip dysplasia

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Peripheral neurological injuries (sciatic)


  • Cruciate ligaments

  • Patellar Dislocation

  • Osteochondritis dissecans of the knee

  • Osteoarthritis


  • Fractures

  • Dislocations

4 -In general:

  • Muscle Tears

  • Tendon and ligament injuries

  • Pathological fractures

  • Wound healing

  • Spondylosis

  • Joint Diseases

  • Osteosynthesis

  • Discopathies
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