Equine-facilitated therapy could reduce low back pain

Credit: Philippe Oursel / Unsplash.

According to a new study by the University of Eastern Finland, patients who suffer from chronic low back pain can benefit from equine-facilitated therapy (EFT).

The study tested 22 men and women with low back pain, and it aimed to determine the effect of EFT on pain, depression and anxiety levels, quality of life, and physical performance.

The 12-week intervention showed that EFT can significantly improve daily functioning, sleep quality, and the ability to stand or bend forward for long periods.

Additionally, the patients reported a decrease in pain levels, increased participation in social activities, and an improvement in their psychological well-being.

The intervention had a comprehensive impact on the rehabilitation process of the patients.

The team also found that EFT positively affects patients’ mental health. Patients’ social functioning improved, and their depression levels decreased during the intervention.

Patients who participated in the study confirmed that the created group effect was a positive experience.

The team explained that equine movement had been used for physical and psychological rehabilitation since ancient times.

EFT encourages the right kind of lumbar movement, which patients with chronic pain tend to avoid. When sitting on a moving horse, patients move along with the horse’s gait, leading to the right kind of lumbar movement.

In the intervention, sitting on a horse and receiving 100 walk-like movements per minute was beneficial.

The compatibility of the patient with the horse’s movements, along with a suitable exercise load, played a key role in the intervention.

The exercise load was gradually increased, within the limits of pain. Patients’ opinions were also considered regarding the choice of their horse and equipment.

EFT is a form of medical rehabilitation that has been subsidized by Finland’s Social Insurance Institution since 2019.

If you care about pain, please read studies about vitamins that could help reduce bone fracture risk, and drinking electrolytes may help reduce muscle pain.

For more information about wellness, please see recent studies that Krill oil could improve muscle health in older people, and eating yogurt is linked to lower frailty in older people.

The study was conducted by Researcher Sanna Mattila-Rautiainen et al and published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science.

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