Cushing's Disease

Cushing's disease is due to the excess secretion of cortisol by the adrenal gland that results from a tumour in the pituitary gland. This excess secretion of cortisol can have dramatic effects on several body functions.

Clinical signs include; a long thick and curly coat, failure to shed the coat in spring, increased sweating, loss of condition, excessive drinking and urination, diabeties, fat deposition in the supra-orbital fossae (above the eyes), dull coat and eyes, reduced resistance to infection and worm burdens, lethargy, muscle loss (resulting in a dipped back and pot belly) and eventually laminitis.

The disease is more common in ponies and is a disease usually affecting older horses. It is slowly progressive and causes more symptoms as time goes on.

Horses with poor conformation are more likely to develop a curb, in particular those with sickle/cow hocks. A curb may initially cause lameness but with the correct treatment and management usually does not cause long term problems, although thickened scar tissue will remain.

Can Equissage help?

It can help alleviate the impact various symptoms have.
There is no known cure for ECD (Equine Cushings Disease) but good management can help improve quality of life, particularly in the earlier stages of development. Drug treatments are also effective at lessening the impact of the clinical signs.

Classic symptoms of ECD are a compromised immune system meaning that cuts, however small, take much longer to heal, recurrent or ever-present mouth ulcers, foot abscesses and skin complaints are much more prevalent; there is also the ever present risk of laminitis, if not regular bouts of it. These are all things that good management can help with and this is where Equissage can assist considerably.

Regular sessions will help the circulation particularly to the distal limbs (important with regard to treating laminitis); good circulation is important to ensure all areas receive nourishment for cell regeneration, etc. and to support the immune system. Of equal importance is good lymphatic and venous drainage. Use of Equissage will also help with muscle tone; it is only the weakening and stretching of muscles which results in the "dipped back/pot belly" appearance.

Equissage used as part of the management programme for an ECD case will help keep the horse/pony in as good a shape as possible for a longer period of time.


Bearing in mind that ECD sufferers are usually older, often retired horses, much as they still like regular attention, they don't want constant fussing over so a once-a-day session is quite enough.

A longer session, say 30 minutes, with Equissage on a lower setting (No.3) will prove to be far more beneficial than 15-20 minutes on a higher setting particular in terms of the circulatory system and the positive effects for the immune system. And bearing in mind that often ECD cases do urinate more, you do not want to put the kidneys under additional "strain". The longer, gentler session will prove more effective at helping circulatory conditions as well as aiding with foot abscess and laminitis recovery. Although the higher settings are generally more effective with regard to muscular conditions do not be tempted to turn the dial up in the quest to help improve muscle tone as there will be a much greater build-up of heat retained in the body for a longer period which will not assist in terms of general comfort of the affected horse or pony - remember that their coat is thicker and you do not want to induce additional sweating.

Point to Note:

With the advent of ultrasonography research has established that "Curb" is not an individual condition but actually a collection of soft tissue injuries. There are severeal conditions, each involving different structures of the hock area, but with similar symptoms, so it is important to establish exactly which structures are affected.