Thursday, 2 December 2010

Time to rethink the Bute and Neurofen?

First there was this.

And then today, this.

And I am not surprised.  Inflammation may actually assist in the healing process? And those anti inflams you have been pumping into yourself and your horse may actually be hindering bone damage recovery? Something is afoot....

Commonsense, well my commonsense, says the body responds to trauma in particular ways for a reason. Sure, some of those response mechanisms may be medically assisted, but think about the inflammatory response for a moment. Swelling is often caused by fluids leaking out of tissue, or from the circulatory system "leaking" interstitially as it should. Both lots of fluid will have a role in mopping up the nasties that can occur with trauma, and delivering them to the waste disposal mechanisms within the body. However, there is a "fact" that exists within the horse community that prolonged inflammation is damaging, and that's when the Bute sachets come out and become a regular additive (I could say supplement, as that is frequently the way Bute ends up) in the feed bin.

But what happens when Bute and other NSAIDs do become a daily additive, rather than simply an aid to get the patient through a short but critical point in the healing process? I have a gut feeling that Bute doesn't simply delay or hinder bone healing, for example, but may interfer with the mineralisation processes in bone tissue, which is something more sinister than just "hindering" healing. And if it is doing that to bone, how does it affect other body tissues? We know already what it does to the gut, as do human form NSAIDs  in people.

Horse people are quick to poultice, ice, bute, devils claw and white willow their horses to alleviate pain and swelling so that their horses return to comfort quickly, but in doing so are also then hiding a normal response which tells the animal (and therefore the owner) that the horse needs further recovery and avoidance of hard work. It becomes too easy to put the horse back into work, because the animal appears to have recovered, when in fact, it is functioning under the mask of NSAID.The useof Bute etc in such cases becomes a double whammy: the drug is impacting on healing efficacy, and on the rider's perception of the horse's capacity for work whilst still injured, or incompletely healed (thanks to the NSAIDs impedance of the healing process).

So it's time to really stop and think about how and why you are using NSAIDs on yourself, and your horse, and how you are monitoring the use of these drugs during the healing process.

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