Equine Muscle Problems and Injury

LIR Veterinary Thermal Imaging Camera - Used in the detection of horse muscle wastage, problems, strains and injury

Our thermal imaging cameras capture high-definition images.

Equine Exertional Rhabdomyolysis  (Tying Up, Azoturia or Monday Morning Disease) is a syndrome that damages the muscle tissue in horses. ER occurs when there is an inadequate flow of blood to the muscles of an exercising horse. The muscle cells, lacking in oxygen, begin to function anaerobically to produce the needed ATP (energy to function). The anaerobic work creates a buildup of waste products, acid, and heat. This subsequently alters the cell by preventing the cell's enzymes from functioning and the myofilaments from efficiently contracting. The cell membranes may then be damaged if the horse is forced to continue work, which allows muscle enzymes and myoglobin to leak into the bloodstream.

equine thermography - muscle spasm in horse - horse muscle problem and horse muscle injury - Equine Infrared

Muscle tear after a fall at cross-country

Muscular spasm is often the body’s way of protecting an injured area from further harm. Once the underlying healing has completed, it’s important that work is undertaken to release any spasm that remains. Your vet may decide to inject muscle relaxants, or recommend that your physiotherapist, massage therapist or equine body worker work on the affected area. A thermal imaging session before and after treatment allows objectively monitoring of the treatment programme, and also identifies whether muscular spasm is an issue.Thermal Imaging of horses when they re-commence a fitness programme, or for horses who aren't regularly ridden, the two groups most commonly affected, can identify the early stages of this condition, and allow supportive therapies to begin promptly, reducing cell and tissue damage.

equine thermography - horse hamstrings - horse muscle problem - horse muscle injury - Equine Infrared

Cooler hamstrings on the left.

Many chronic conditions in horses result from incorrect posture as your horse holds himself in an unnatural way to alleviate discomfort, or over time has become used to a certain way of going. Using muscles incorrectly alters the normal thermal patterns which are seen, and can be identified on a thermogram as cooler or warmer than expected. A full thermal imaging session will highlight this secondary problem if it is present, which can be monitored and managed alongside the primary issue.


equine thermography - muscle wastage (atrophy) in a horse - horse musle problem - horse muscle injury - Equine Infrared

Muscular wasting (atrophy) on right.

Muscular wastage (atrophy) and abnormal muscle gain (hypertrophy) are seen where muscles are incorrectly used over a long period of time. Atrophy, or wasting of the muscles is indicated by cooler than expected areas over muscle groups on your horse’s thermal images.

When the uniform hair coat colour is replaced by the high-contrast rainbow palette, the eye finds it easier to notice differences in musculature and muscle mass of corresponding muscle groups.

equine thermography - muscle tears in a horse - horse muscle problem - horse muscle injury - Equine Infrared

Muscle tear on left following a fall.

Muscles damaged during trauma can also be detected, and appropriate therapies applied.

Ongoing imaging during physiotherapy treatment, or prescriptive exercise regimes can provide valuable information into how well your horse is progressing.


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