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Editorial

      This special equine edition of Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia is entirely devoted to the subject of pain and analgesia – a milestone in veterinary care of horses. Equine analgesia has been a neglected subject until relatively recently, lagging behind progress in small animals. However, the need for good analgesia in horses, particularly perioperatively, is now acknowledged (
      • Taylor PM
      • Pascoe PJ
      • Mama K
      Diagnosing and treating pain in the horse – where are we today?.
      ). Arguments against pain relief for horses have persisted more than that in small animals. A long–accepted approach has been that if an injured body part does not hurt, it will be overused, resulting in further damage. This view has little foundation on practical grounds, and is inhumane. A horse in pain is usually agitated and likely to cause more damage than a calm animal with good pain management, given physical support to the injury. A horse with well–controlled pain that is not depressed will eat readily; adequate energy intake is essential for normal functioning of the immune system and tissue healing. There may be added benefits of analgesia applied during surgery and in the treatment of trauma.
      • Capdevila X
      • Barthelet Y
      • Biboulet P
      • et al.
      Effects of perioperative analgesic technique on the surgical outcome and duration of rehabilitation after major knee surgery.
      showed that mobility, some weeks after surgery, is better in human patients receiving more profound analgesia perioperatively. It is likely that these studies apply equally well to horses. The implications for treatment of sport horses is obvious, with considerable potential benefit from supplying profound analgesia around the time of surgery.
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