Tendon Therapy

Tendons, are not given a moments thought until they go wrong – and when they do become damaged, as many athletes and horse owners will testify, it is a huge problem resulting in time off from competition.

A tendon injury for a competition horse or racehorse paints an extremely bleak future for horse owners but particularly the apparent lack of coherent treatment regimes available to horses.

“There is no such thing as a good bad leg” is a well known saying in the horse world but increasingly, with a changing environment and with scientists who have worked with world class athletes for many years the equestrian world is now able to benefit from a therapy which has proven results.

Tendons, tendons, tendons ...

In view of the fact that the causes of pathology occurring in tendons in horses is almost certainly the same as in humans - multi-factorial, a combination of biomechanical, pathological and structural changes all contributing towards painful, swollen and dysfunctional tendons. The thinking behind the introduction of micro-current to the equestrian world was that treatment that worked on athletes had to have a similar effect on horses.

A bit of science!

Particular cells that are specialised to produce the tissue (collagen) required to make the structure of the tendon are often the reason why a tendon problem fails to get better.

In the tendon these cells are located within the tendon sheath and are called tenocytes. The tenocytes appear to become 'lazy' and as a result are less in number and the ones that are present produce less collagen. This is particularly evident as we age or if the tendon is overstressed. This cellular 'go-slow' results in a lack of the protein called collagen, the biological scaffolding that gives the tendon or ligament its structure and strength. This slows down healing in acute (immediate) and chronic (long-term) conditions giving us the problem of how to deal with this problem and treat these conditions successfully.

Particular cells that are specialised to produce the tissue (collagen) required to make the structure of the tendon are often the reason why a tendon problem fails to get better. In the tendon these cells are located within the tendon sheath and are called tenocytes. The tenocytes appear to become 'lazy' and as a result are less in number and the ones that are present produce less collagen. This is particularly evident as we age or if the tendon is overstressed. This cellular 'go-slow' results in a lack of the protein called collagen, the biological scaffolding that gives the tendon or ligament its structure and strength. This slows down healing in acute (immediate) and chronic (long-term) conditions giving us the problem of how to deal with this problem and treat these conditions successfully.

How good are current treatment methods?

It seems to me that the current treatment of this type of injury is dependent upon several factors:

  • the severity of the injury
  • its site of occurrence

And possibly the most pertinent ...

  • the practitioners preference for a particular treatment modality. Laser, ultrasound, electrotherapy, magnetic therapy and others have all been tried and tested - although never very scientifically; their virtues extolled by the promoters the therapies.
     

So what does work?

We have been experimenting with a new treatment that involves a number of different processes one of which involves micro-current treatments. Micro-currents occur naturally in the body providing cells with one method of communicating with one another. During injury and illness these currents are disrupted. Research has shown that using externally applied currents of the same intensity, that mimic the body’s own bio-electrical system, will promote the healing process. Studies have shown that micro-current electrical stimulation has the effect of promoting and enhancing tenocyte activity that has the effect of accelerating the regeneration healing processes of the tendon tissue repair. Therefore, the healing process is hastened.

However, unfortunately, life is not that simple and merely applying the micro-current will have some effect but it is too variable in its results. As a consequence the Microvet was designed which worked at a cellular and inter-cellular level that will not only promote an optimal environment for healing in a variety of different pathological scenarios, but also accelerate tissue repair and thus promote the repair in even the most difficult of cases.

It appears that we have uncovered one of the body's best-kept secrets namely how cells differentiate and dedifferentiate to initiate and undertake a repair process. Micro-current alone does have a sophisticated mechanism of action that appears to be dependant upon many different actions and interactions. However, to maximise the effects a combination of applications needs to be applied. There are key questions to be posed with respect to the healing of these structures and seeking the answers will help to provide solutions to the problems identified.

  • Why do these tendon, wounds etc fail to heal?
  • Can this failing to the process be reversed or modified
  • Do all chronic conditions behave in a homogenous manner in their failure to thrive?
  • Can we influence the manner in which cells behave and manipulate the replication of cells and collagen production in-vivo?

The following physiological effects on cells following this application maybe summarised as the following:

  • A modification in the rate of production of the enzyme telemerase
  • A mechanism that modifies or mimics the normal processes of electro chemical signal transduction
  • An amplification of A.T.P. synthesis
  • A change in the acid/base chemical balance in the cell environment
  • An electric field/current maybe amplified within the membrane making it the most likely site of interaction

Four reasons are suggested why the cell membrane is implicated in this process:

  • The cell membrane is a major site of signal transduction
  • Changes to ion flow, especially calcium, will affect the cells behaviour
  • The cell membrane is involved in the controlling of the electrical aspects of the cell
  • Maintaining the potential gradient through the active regulation of ion influx into and out of the cell is essential for normal cellular behaviour

And what for Horses?

The knowledge and understanding achieved with respect to treating tendon and ligament problems in people has proved to be helpful to the equine world.

We have now treated several horses with quite severe tendon problems and have had encouraging results with each horse. Healing time is significantly reduced and as a result the return to work quicker.