Understanding the signs:
Colic is a symptom of abdominal pain most commonly arising from the gastrointestinal tract, less commonly colic symptoms can also result from the pathology of other organs such as the bladder. Colic signs do vary and may also depend on the severity of the pain. The more common signs of colic are pawing, kicking or biting or turning the head towards their abdomen, stretching out as if to urinate without doing so, repeatedly lying down and getting up or rolling, lack of appetite, putting the head down to the water or splashing in water without drinking, change in nature of droppings, change in normal gastrointestinal sounds, bloating or distension of the abdomen, sweating, changes to normal respiration and an elevated heart rate.
A horse with colic may find it hard to pass manure however even a horse with severe colic may pass manure if the problem in the gut is way forward. Rectum. Causes of colic vary but often result from a gas build up in the gut, distention of the gut can cause discomfort and pain. Blockages can occur from large stones forming in the gut called enteroliths or sand accumulations for horses on sandy pasture, particularly in times of drought, they may also occur from feed or foreign objects in the gut but instances of these are less common. Excessive worm burden can also cause severe and potentially fatal colic. Other less common but serious causes can be either an infection of the gut or from the gut-twisting or becoming strangled around or through an abdominal structure causing an obstruction and life-threatening compromise to the guts blood supply.
Recommended management and veterinary treatment:
As colic can be potentially fatal it is always recommended to call your veterinarian if it is suspected as colic can often require urgent intervention to prevent further escalation. It is always recommended to prevent access to feed if symptoms are suspected and not to allow the horse to go down and roll but to keep them walking to prevent the risk of rolling and potentially causing a twisted bowel. The first decision regarding treatment direction is whether the horse is suffering from medical colic or surgical colic.
Medical colics are those that are expected to respond well to pain relief injections and stomach drenching, while surgical colics are those that require surgical intervention in order to give the horse the best chance of survival. Many things are considered when making this decision including the level of pain, the duration of the episode, initial response to pain relief, the heart rate, gum colour and amount and the quality of gut sounds.
The majority of colics are defined as medical and treatments may include electrolytes, stomach drenching, pain medication and possible sedatives depending on the horse’s symptoms and condition. Occasionally more intensive medical treatment is required, particularly if the horse has failed to respond to standard medical treatment in the field or if a potentially life-threatening impaction is suspected. This more intensive treatment includes intravenous fluid therapy to maintain the horse’s metabolic state, frequent drenches by stomach tube to hydrate the gut and its contents, and the administration of medication as required.
Different tests may be performed including an internal rectal examination, the passing of a stomach tube to assess the amount of gas and fluid in the stomach, and a belly tap where a sample of the peritoneal fluid bathing the gut is collected for assessment at the clinic, a blood test may also be administered to determine how concentrated the horse’s blood is, indicating the severity of the disease, or an abdominal ultrasound to assess the size and placement of the intestine, particularly the small intestine.
Surgery may be recommended for those horses that fail to respond to medical treatment or those who are considered to have a surgical lesion following the tests conducted by the attending veterinarian. Surgical colics may include a twisted or incarcerated bowel, displacements of the large intestine, enteroliths and those impactions that fail to respond to medical treatment. Surgical intervention is a big undertaking both in terms of potential complications and cost, and whilst however surgical outcomes are often positive sometimes euthanasia is the alternative recommendation or the final outcome despite surgery, in some cases.
How Equissage may assist and application:
Equissage uses CVT therapy which is clinically proven to assist circulation and lymphatic drainage through up to 2ft of tissue and 4ft of bone, but at the same time is proven to be non-concussive and operate at a low medical grade acceleration rate appropriate to promote blood supply and lymph flow to the soft tissue at a cellular level, without further concussion to the damaged area. Whilst it is always recommended to consult your vet Equissage is well known to assist with moving the gut assisting gut sounds and relaxing both the corresponding muscles and nervous horses so it is not uncommon for vets themselves to recommend putting on the back pad whilst waiting for them to arrive, whilst walking or even whilst they are assessing and drenching the horse.
Introducing the back pad first on a standard-setting moving up to medium or above medium setting as the horse accepts it, which whilst they are in such discomfort and walking is recommended would be considerably quicker than introduced in a normal everyday treatment environment, and taken straight up to medium or above on a horse already familiar with the therapy.
CPM should then be introduced by pressing the CMP button on the edge remote or the two up arrows on the S12 or S2 models that have it, as the surge and release motion is the most effective to get the gut moving often resulting in an increase in gut sounds. The TS relaxation setting is also a useful setting if mild initial signs are present on an anxious horse showing distress or an elevated heart or breathing rate.
Please ensure the back pad is girth tight with the chest strap sitting low and firmly across the shoulder as whichever setting is chosen you would be walking the horse at the same time unless tests or other procedures are being carried out by a vet and you have been advised to stand the horse to do so.
**Whilst Equissage is often recommended by Vets as part of a management or rehabilitation program to assist with a variety of conditions, should you have concerns or contra indications in your particular case please consult your preferred Vet