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Help! Anyone familiar with splenius injuries in horses? Or body worker/vet who is?

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  • Help! Anyone familiar with splenius injuries in horses? Or body worker/vet who is?

    My horse has been dealing with a splenius muscle injury for months now. It all started with getting caught up in his martengale back in June. Just thinking about it is like a kick in the gut. He damaged his jaw and his neck, the remnants seem to be jaw pain at this point (I am going to get TMJ's injected) and a splenius muscle that is spasming at origin. I have a great body worker that can address these spasms but he is from Missouri and travels the country, only getting up here every 4-6 weeks. I believe that if I could find someone more local to address this more often that we could get past this hump. Every time we go to bring my horse back into work, the splenius gets to spasming again and he's miserable. I am at such a loss right now, I don't know what to do. It's not in the belly of the muscle like most massage people would address, it's right in the origin at the base of his skull.

    Any input, advice would be appreciated.
    Erin and
    Instant Karma "Sunny", ShineDown "Liam"

    "You can't control the wind, but you can adjust the sails."

  • #2
    Have you tried using robaxin/methocarbamol?


    • #3
      Ask your bodyworker what you can do between sessions to help him stay comfortable. It's no good when the sessions are spaced too far apart that he can become a wreck in the meantime, so teaching you what to do with him to keep the muscle supple and healthy will be in everyone's best interest.

      Typically some light massage down the length of the muscle (nothing complicated just rubbing with a flat hand along the length of the neck should do) every day or so as a part of your grooming routine, stretching (if you're familiar with carrot stretching that should suffice for the splenius), and warming up/cooling down long and low goes a long way in keeping horses supple between bodywork sessions.

      For my own clients who are looking for ways to help their horse between sessions I'll assign "homework" consisting of one or two new exercises/stretches to do until they see me again at which point I'll add on a little bit more so as to not overwhelm them. I love it when my client has done their homework and can always feel the difference when I put my hands back on the horse.


      • Original Poster

        We did try Robaxin and it still went into spasm again by the last time he was here. The problem with this particular injury is it is at origin, and the belly of the muscle feels fine for the most part. I do have a bunch of stretches he has me doing, and tomorrow I am to try a specific stretch at the origin, but I dont know if I am doing it right.

        Ugh. His quality of life would be greatly improved if I could find someone who has the same type of magical powers as Jerrod to visit in between. Ugh.
        Erin and
        Instant Karma "Sunny", ShineDown "Liam"

        "You can't control the wind, but you can adjust the sails."


        • #5
          Good Luck with your boy.


          • #6
            Any chance you can find someone who does cranial-sacral work?
            The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


            • #7
              I'd get this horse on an E/Se/ Mag supplement as well. No help with the body worker though.

              Test for Se first.
              Last edited by Sansena; Feb. 28, 2013, 07:29 AM. Reason: add


              • #8
                IK, so sorry to hear your horse is having trouble recovering fully from his injury. That must be frustrating!

                I'm not surprised it's a tough go, though. The splenius is a massive muscle; any stress or strain anywhere in the muscle is going to have some likelihood of encouraging the spasm. It's a shame your regular therapist isn't local!

                Have you asked him if he can recommend someone closer to you to come in more frequently in between his visits to help you? There are good massage therapists all over the country. (Bad ones, too, so I'd recommend going with one suggested by your regular guy.)

                What modalities does your therapist use? Is he comfortable showing you techniques beyond stretching (which is hugely useful--I often give my clients stretching homework--but may not be quite enough, as you see)? Teaching you to find and release the trigger point at the splenius origin might work, if he is comfortable doing so. You might also ask him about other muscles that may be contributing (e.g., horse feels a bit sore in the serratus, for instance, and clenches it, indirectly clenching the body of the splenius (deep to both portions of serrats) and putting the injured attachment into spasm again.

                You also indicate you are not sure you're doing the stretches correctly; this is another area where you can enlist your therapist at his next visit. Explain your concern and ask him to help you with the stretch until YOU are confident you can replicate it correctly on your own. Most therapists are more than happy to work with our clients like this!

                I'd also recommend some acupuncture or acupressure. There are points that will address both the local spasm and other systemic things that may be contributing to the recurrence. Photonic therapy is another adjunct that could be useful, though your specific problem site may well be too deep for that to be effective.

                Likewise, some of my clients respond very positively to magnets, and the relaxing effects of these MAY (data is far from complete on this!) penetrate enough into the tissue to help keep the problem area relaxed and less prone to spasm. Some of the ceramic- or titanium-infused fabrics available may have a similar affect if draped over the poll area.

                If you are familiar with Linda Tellington-Jones' work, the TTouch (particularly the basic "clouded leopard" touch) system has proven very easy to learn and very useful to several of my clients dealing with residual muscular issues post-injury.

                Just a few thoughts; I hope something there might be useful to you.
                Equinox Equine Massage

                In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me invincible summer.
                -Albert Camus


                • Original Poster

                  Thank you guys so much for the thoughtful responses. I do have a craniosacral therapist that comes out and works on him. We just recently had his teeth done by a natural balance dentist that she had suggested. I had used a fairly well respected dental tech up until this point and was really surprised to hear this new dentist say my horse's mouth was rated a 4 or 5 out of 5 in severity of issues and that "you only see a mouth like this maybe once a year." Crazy. So I hope addressing that issue may help with his splenius, because the spasm always happens right at origin at the base of the skull over the poll and from what I understand the poll and jaw effect each other in a huge way.

                  Colored- I do have a "massage" therapist who comes out that is exceptional. Although what she does is more muscle work and not actual massage, no one knows quite what to call what she does. She learned it from her father, who learned it from his father, and so on. She has magic hands and has been invaluable in keeping us on the right track. She unfortunately can not find the spasm, she can feel the resulting inflammation from the spasm when it gets bad, but she can't feel the spasm itself which surprises me because she is so amazing. And generally, what she picks up and what Jerrod picks up is consistent.

                  I have asked Jerrod about local people who might be able to help me in between his visits, but since his home base is so far away, he is not really familiar with body workers out here. In regards to modalities, it would also be hard to label him, he learned from apprenticing with a gentleman out in australia or new zealand years ago and has evolved that work over years and time and many horses. Even he said my horse is an unusual case, and is hopeful with our discovery of his teeth/jaw being out of whack that it may explain some of these recurring issues. He considers himself more of a muscle worker than a chiro, but he does work with the vertebrae by alleviating the surrounding muscles of spasms and then manipulating the bone afterwards.

                  Next time he comes out I'll have him walk me through some of the stretches with me doing them and feeling how it should feel, if I knew I was doing it properly I would be so much less anxious! And I will definitely look up the TTouch system, Liam's craniosacral therapist keeps suggesting that to me as well.

                  Is there a specific magnet product that you know of that fits over the poll?
                  Erin and
                  Instant Karma "Sunny", ShineDown "Liam"

                  "You can't control the wind, but you can adjust the sails."


                  • Original Poster

                    Anyone else possibly know of a practitioner to suggest?
                    Erin and
                    Instant Karma "Sunny", ShineDown "Liam"

                    "You can't control the wind, but you can adjust the sails."


                    • #11
                      I don't have a practitioner to suggest, but I do have another suggestion that's something you could do yourself. I got a Best Vet microcurrent unit to help with a similar issue (I just posted on another thread that I use it on myself a lot too).

                      I have two bodyworkers, one is my vet/chiro and the other is a massage gal that I call my "voodoo lady" (it doesn't look like she's doing anything but she has the biggest results in horses I've seen). The massage gal was bringing out her bestvet and using it before she did the rest of her work. My guy had a lot of tension in the base of his neck and his SI area. She would use the best vet and he would suddenly groan and yawn and stretch his (wonky) hind leg straight out behind himself. Then shake and end up standing a lot more squarely. The horse we walked and trotted before and after her work was a completely different horse every time (mostly because of her body work, but the best vet helped set the stage for that). The problem was that she spends most of her time down in Oregon and wasn't up here often. She suggested that I buy a best vet and use it in between appointments to help with the muscle spasming. It's a microcurrent instrument that finds a muscle spasm (it beeps at you when you need to stop over an area) and causes the muscle to contract wherever there's a muscle spasm. It does the same thing in people that it does in horses, so it's been easy for me to play guinea pig on. And boy has it helped with muscle soreness at horseshows for me!

                      I use it on my TB at home sometimes and I don't usually get a huge reaction from him. But when I use it at shows he spasms like crazy in the base of his neck and through his back. I've been very pleasantly surprised at the difference this one little thing can make. It's expensive, but IMO it was totally worth the expense for my one horse who needed it.

                      I've used it here and there on my other horses as well, but my TB is my "giant knot" of a horse and is the only one I really spend a lot of time using it on. Though I did use it on my WB mare after she flipped over a fence and injured her poll. Totally worth the money if you have a horse that has a hard time holding adjustments between appointments. I would suggest calling the therapyproducts.net folks and talking to them about it if you have any questions. Might be something for your massage person to think about getting if you're not interested in getting it yourself.
                      Flying F Sport Horses
                      Horses in the NW


                      • Original Poster

                        Thank you very much, I will check into that!
                        Erin and
                        Instant Karma "Sunny", ShineDown "Liam"

                        "You can't control the wind, but you can adjust the sails."