Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs are often used as the first line of defense for injury and inflammation. NSAIDs are the most commonly used form of pain killers in the world for humans and animals. We are so quick to use them but have you ever wondered, how do they actually work? Do they really help pain and inflammation? This blog will explain how NSAIDs work for your horses, possible side effects your horse may experience and possible effects of ongoing use of NSAIDs. To learn more, keep reading.
First lets talk about the most common forms of NSAIDs used with horses are Phenylbutazone (Bute) and Flunixin Meglumine (Banamine). As a horse owner, its important to understand how these common drugs can affect your equine partner.
How NSAIDs Work in Horses:
If you are giving your horse bute, he probably suffered some type of injury and inflammation. If you aren’t familiar with inflammation in horses, read this blog! If your horse is indeed inflamed or injured, you probably hope the bute will provide some relief.
When bute or other NSAIDS are fed to horses, they bind to proteins in the horses blood plasma and start circulating. The NSAIDS then start working on the production of prostaglandins. This is a chemical that plays a role in the body’s inflammatory cycle. “The prostaglandins are a group of lipids made at sites of tissue damage or infection that are involved in dealing with injury and illness. They control processes such as inflammation, blood flow, the formation of blood clots and the induction of labour” (You & Your, 2013) Once your horse has an area that is inflamed, that area is full of the these prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are made at sites of the injury or infection, where they cause inflammation, pain and fever as part of the healing process. NSAIDs are made to deal with these prostaglandins and help with the pain. NSAIDs reduce the production of these prostaglandins in the area around the injury or infection. Though this may seem like a benefit, the prostaglandins are necessary for the cycle of inflammation to complete itself.
NSAIDS also send signals to your horses brain that the injury is healed or the inflammation is gone. Your horse might feel more comfortable to move around, there is a potential to do more damage since the injury is not truly healed. You are putting more pressure on an already inflamed area.
Side Effects of NSAIDs
The main side effect of any NSAID is the masking factor. This means when a NSAID is fed, the cycle of inflammation is stopped and unable to complete. The horse “feels” better because of the pain reliving properties and therefore starts moving as if there is no injury.
Along with the masking factor, it is hard to assess healing on a horse that has been on NSAIDs. True lameness exams and flexion tests will have inaccurate results when the horse is on NSAIDs. This is because the bute has sent signals to the horses brain that they are not injured and they move normally while potentially doing more damage to the injured area.
Another side effect of NSAIDs in horses is the occurrence of gastro-intestinal ulcers, increased bleeding, blood clots kidney damage and potential liver damage. Though proper dosing can help avoid these issues, prolonged usage will usually lead to at least one negative side effect.
Now that you understand some of the possible side effects of NSAIDs, you might be scratching your head trying to figure out to help your sore and inflamed horse. Rest assured, there are other options. When the injury or swelling first occurs, one of the best things you can do is apply cold to the area. This is typically accomplished with cold hosing or ice wraps. Unlike NSAIDs, this does not stop or slow the process of healing. Cold therapy simply allows the healing to happen more rapidly.
Another option is supplementing with Precision Joint Solution. This is where Precision can make a huge difference. Precision’s cutting edge ingredients include a blend of enzymes that have been shown to help reduce chronic and acute inflammation. The enzymes actually take the natural process of inflammation and speed it up! This allows the body to complete the important cycle of inflammation, just at an accelerated rate. In addition, Precision’s blend of enzymes cleanse toxins and free radicals from soft tissue, along with supporting the body’s immune function as well. Precision as a whole also helps feed nutrients and to the cells helping reproduce stronger healthier cells, tissue and bones. Equally important for many of our riders, Precision’s ingredients are legal for showing. Depending on your organization, bute and other NSAIDs are often prohibited.
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“You & Your Hormones.” You & Your Hormones. N.p., 24 Oct. 2013. Web. 29 July 2016.