Acupuncture is a natural treatment used in holistic medicine. It causes relatively few side effects and has been a practice used in human medicine since the origin of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). It's also been used on animals for quite some time as well.
An acupuncture session consists of Dr. Anderson inserting needles in certain spots in your horse's body, based on his or her particular issue. The needles are very thin, so they don't cause pain. In Chinese medicine, it's thought that the needles stimulate the flow of energy, which they refer to as qi.
The practitioner specifically applies the needles to different meridians that are aligned with different areas that could benefit the health issue. In Western medicine, practitioners believe that acupuncture points focus on the connective tissue, nerves, and muscles. Additionally, it's also thought that the needles stimulate the body to produce certain natural painkillers.
What We Use Equine Acupuncture for
In many of our patients with pain, we recommend acupuncture, in particular, for soft tissue pain. Besides pain relief, acupuncture may also have an impact on inflammation, which is ideal for our patients with acute injuries and arthritis. It's thought that acupuncture may also help with the immune system.
Your horse may benefit from acupuncture's ability to increase microcirculation. This refers to the circulation of blood through your horse's smallest blood vessels -- the venules, metarterioles, terminal arterioles, and capillaries. They're located throughout your horse's body including in his or her organ tissue.
We may recommend acupuncture for other reasons as well.
Evaluation Before Acupuncture
Dr. Anderson performs an evaluation before conducting acupuncture to ensure it's safe for your horse. The first part of this evaluation consists of gathering information about your mare or stallion's medical history. We want to make sure he or she doesn't have any conditions that acupuncture could make worse. Our practitioner will also conduct a visual examination and assess the location of the issue.
We won't use acupuncture if the root of your horse's pain is from a fracture or infectious condition. We also can't apply the needles in an open wound. For these issues, your horse will need to have another treatment better suited for his or her issue. Our vet won't conduct acupuncture on a pregnant mare.
At your horse's appointment, we may also conduct blood work or imaging to ensure the safety of the procedure.
What to Expect During Equine Acupuncture
Once Dr. Anderson determines that acupuncture is safe for your horse, they will determine the cause of your horse's pain or other symptoms and decide if acupuncture could benefit your horse.
During the procedure, Dr. Anderson applies ultra-thin needles into specific parts of your horse's body. The needles consist of stainless steel and are flexible. Additionally, we only use fresh needles to avoid the risk of infecting your horse.
Dr. Anderson will apply five to 30 needles, depending on your horse's condition. We leave the needles in position for anywhere between five to 30 minutes. The entire session will last from 20 to 60 minutes.
Sometimes, our patients only require one treatment if they have an acute condition. However, in most cases, between three to five are necessary. For horses with degenerative conditions, or to prevent recurring issues, your horse may benefit from routine acupuncture sessions.
Acupuncture may help lessen your horse's pain and other symptoms without side effects. Generally, the treatment is safe. Plus, Dr. Anderson tailors the treatment to your horse's particular needs. To learn more about acupuncture treatments for your horse, or to schedule an appointment, contact Anderson Equine Veterinary Clinic today at 800-462-8749.