The Three Aspects of Horse Injury

When Evaluating an injury from a TCM perspective, the presenting symptoms are evaluated in conjunction with the cause of the symptoms so that treatment is enhanced by stopping further stress on the injured area and preventing reinjury of the area. There are three aspects of injury or disease in the body which when addressed gives a stronger and more effective treatment.


The Process Imbalance


The process imbalance is primarily what acupuncturists work on in treatment through unblocking chi and blood stagnation or deficiency locally in an injured area or through promoting proper body function. For example it is the role of the TCM liver organ which controls the smooth flow of chi and blood, when this organ/system is in dysfunction chi and blood stagnation is more likely to develop in the body.


The Weak Structure


When looking at horses such as thoroughbreds with their skinny long legs, it’s easy to see that through breeding we haven’t designed the most sturdy of animal for completion soundness and unfortunately unless we start cross breeding it’s not going to change in fact it will get worse. So because we can’t change the framework of the horse like we can a car for example, we need to be aware of the weak structures or areas where disease or injury are most likely to manifest so we can work on the process imbalance which courses through the weak structure as well as reduce the stress on it.


The Stressor


I think everyone experiences stress at some stage of their life. But when looking at these three aspects and their effect on the musculoskelatal system the stressors I am talking about are from the environment the horse lives and performs in and how this stresses the body. You can see horses galloping around the paddock and not injuring themselves but put a rider on (stressor) and there is a much increased chance of injury occurring. Another example of a stressor is the effect environment has on the conditions the horse is performing under, for example wet weather can cause sand tracks to become firmer and hot weather can cause them to go softer, therefore the weather can exhibit different stressors on the limbs. The environment can directly stress the body, cold weather causes muscle constriction and reduced circulation, hot and damp weather can increase inflammatory and fluid/oedema in areas of the body.


An example of these ‘three aspects of injury’ can be seen in a common hamstring injury, lets say for example the semimembranous muscle at it’s origin of the tuber ischium. (pic). The process imbalance occurs in what is known as the kidney meridian where chi and blood stagnation or deficiency has occurred in this anatomical area of the meridian. Accompanying this can be dysfunction in the TCM organ the spleen (which controls the nourishment of muscle tissue) or the TCM organ the liver (which controls and nourishes the sinews and connective tissue of the muscle) this can also set up this region for injury.


Now we add the weak structure which in this case is the tendinous origin of the muscle, which is the highest stressed area of the muscle due to the strain of the whole muscle pulling against the bone at the back of the lesser movable pelvis.


By then adding the stressor which would be the hyperextension of the hind limbs i.e when a horse lets down in a race, or in looses traction around a turn track work which stretches this process imbalanced weak structure, you then have an equation which adds up to an injury!


It’s being able to understand these three aspects of the injury equation which enables the acupuncturist to further understand, evaluate, prevent or treat the injury.

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