PEMF Therapy Review
My horse, Farletta, recently received PEMF therapy via Michele Haman of Equilibrium Therapy. The change following the first treatment was amazing! Farletta has received both chiropractic and massage therapy; the PEMF has helped her achieve even greater progress!
Farletta has had a chronic, right side problem for most of her life. I believe it stems from a pull-back trauma she suffered when she was three (she is now 13). Overtime Farletta developed a slew of problems such as chronic sciatic pain, difficulty developing true bend to right, shortened stride on right side (particularly right front leg), girthing issues, high/low heel syndrome (right front chronically higher heel than left), Equine Recurrent Uveitis (ERU,right eye), chronic poll tightness/pain, atrophy of right side muscles. This was despite receiving regular chiropractic work and classical dressage training.
You'll note I mentioned ERU, the cause of uveitis is suspected to be genetic, a leptospirosis infection, or from injury. Holistic practitioner April Battles has long believed that uveitis can be a result of pull-back trauma, particularly in a young horse. She feels the pull-back (haltered horse tied to an immovable object panics and pulls back, often throwing their full weight against the halter) trauma results in separation and distortion of the “seams” of bones found in the horse’s skull which can result in chronic head pain and also pressure on the optic nerve thus causing uveitis. In Farletta’s case, I believe this is true as I know there is no uveitis in her family and she never had a lepto infection.
There is no known cure for uveitis in horses. It is the number one cause of blindness in horses. Farletta had her diseased eye removed in 2012. The loss of the eye seemed to increase some of her body problems as she soon developed a head-tilt, I assume to improve her view with just one eye. The head tilt resulted in an unbalanced way of going which exacerbates her right side problems and also caused her to wear her front feet unevenly resulting in a toed-in stance.
Farletta received her first chiropractic treatment at age 4, shortly after she started her under saddle training. She continued to receive chiropractic care from a total of three practitioners with minimal success. Farletta did improve after treatment but almost immediately, the tight muscles would pull everything back out of place again. As a result, she never made any real progress.
Three years ago (age 10) I learned of the benefits of equine sports massage. Michele Haman of Equilibrium Therapy worked wonders for Farletta and eventually she had improved range-of-motion in her shoulder, less tightness/pain in her hind end and poll, and girthing issues lessened, and right-side muscle atrophy lessened. Despite the drastic improvements, she continued to have high/low heel syndrome, intermittent shortened stride (RF), and of course the ever-present head-tilt.
Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) therapy uses a strong electromagnetic field to affect tissue at the cellular level, increasing cell membrane permeability and facilitating cell repair.
Large coils are placed on different areas of the horse. You can see the damaged cells respond to the electromagnetic field by twitching, as the tension in the damaged area is released, the twitching stops. The treatment can initially be a little intense for the horse (as it was when Farletta’s worst areas were worked on) but as the muscle tension dissipates, the horse relaxes visibly and may even fall asleep.
Farletta’s treatment lasted about 1 hour. This is what I noticed later that afternoon and in the days that followed
- head tilt gone
- willingness to put head down with right front foot forward
(this almost never happened before)
- greatly increased range of motion in right shoulder
- straight tracking with right front (previously winged out slightly)
- honest and deliberate heel first landing on right front (if this continues, it should
reduce/eliminate high/low heel syndrome
- reduction of atrophy in right shoulder
- eye softer and clearer
- significant reduction in facial tension
- willingness to pick up front feet for cleaning without having to reposition/rebalance
Under Saddle Observations
- there is a horse under my right seat bone!
- greater willingness to develop correct right bend
- walk-trot transition came from behind with little discussion and no argument!
- I had to “turn down the volume” on my right side aids
It has only been a few days but I am very encouraged by the results thus far. As it has taken Farletta years to get to the point she was at, I know that a single treatment will not cure her of all her right side issues, however, I believe with multiple treatments she will at some point be able to maintain a level of physical normalcy she hasn’t had in years.
I am very curious about the possible applications of PEMF therapy for ERU horses. The physical problems that were helped by the PEMF treatment (all her right side issues) I believe are symptoms of damage caused by her pull-back trauma when she was young. I further believe that the ERU suffered in Farletta’s (now removed) right eye was also a symptom of the pull-back trauma. Therefore, I wonder if in the situation of ERU caused by trauma, perhaps PEMF therapy could provide much-needed hope for the future of ERU horses. It is too late for Farletta to answer this question, but we will discover if there are in fact benefits to ERU horses in the future.
I will provide updates as Farletta continues to receive PEMF treatment through Equi-Librium Therapy.
Cheryl L. Eriksen, MSW, Equine Enthusiast, EAGALA groupie and writer of interesting, educational and entertaining blog posts!