When it comes to alternative therapies for animals, veterinary acupuncture has gained significant popularity. While some misconceptions surround this ancient practice, it has proven to be a fascinating and beneficial treatment option, particularly for horses.
Below, our Ocala veterinarians outline some facts about vet acupuncture and how it is used to treat horses, particularly horses who compete in sports.
Fun Facts About Vet Acupuncture
Before we get into the direct benefits of acupuncture for horses, here are some facts about this ancient practice:
- Vet acupuncture can be used on most mammals, but is most commonly used on companion animals, such as cats, dogs, and horses
- Acupuncture can be used in conjuncture with general anesthesia to relax animals during procedures
- Vet acupuncture can treat a range of conditions in horses, including traumatic nerve injuries, intervertebral disk disease, degenerative myelopathy, and even epilepsy
- Veterinary acupuncture is part of a holistic approach to animal health and wellness, aiming to balance the body's energy flow, known as "Qi" (pronounced "chee")
- Acupuncture can be an effective form of pain management for animals, particularly for conditions such as arthritis, musculoskeletal problems, and postoperative pain.
- Acupuncture needles are typically inserted into specific points along the body's meridians, which are energy pathways. These points may be located near nerves, muscles, or connective tissue.
- Acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins, which are natural pain-relieving and mood-enhancing chemicals in the body. This can help animals experience relief and relaxation during treatments.
How does acupuncture help my horse?
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese method of pain relief wherein fine needles are precisely placed in the patient's skin to pinpoint nerves and release tension. When used on sports horses, it can help relieve pain caused by muscle strain and joint deterioration over time.
Horses were among the first animals to be treated with this 3000 year old medical method. In modern veterinary practices, acupuncture is commonplace in the treatment of several conditions in horses, especially sport horses. Western veterinarians and professionals have widely accepted acupuncture as a viable and often effective method of equine disease treatment when done properly.
Skeletal and spinal conditions can be treated with acupuncture in horses.
Benefits of Equine Acupuncture
Below are some benefits of vet acupuncture for your horse:
- A Holistic Approach: Acupuncture takes a holistic approach to horse healthcare, recognizing the interconnectedness of the body, mind, and spirit. By promoting balance and harmony within the body's energy pathways, known as meridians, acupuncture aims to restore optimal health.
- Primarily for Sports Horses: One fascinating fact about veterinary acupuncture is its extensive use in the world of sports horses. Due to the physical demands placed on these athletes, they often experience musculoskeletal issues and pain. Acupuncture serves as an effective method to manage pain, enhance performance, and accelerate recovery.
- Pain Management and Restoration: Acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers, providing horses with relief from discomfort. Furthermore, this therapy improves blood circulation, relaxes muscles, and reduces inflammation, aiding in the restoration of function and mobility.
- Minimal Discomfort, Maximum Benefits: Contrary to popular belief, acupuncture for horses is generally well-tolerated and minimally invasive. The insertion of thin, sterile needles causes minimal discomfort, with many horses becoming relaxed during the treatment session.
At the end of the day, the best way to tell if acupuncture is a good idea for your horse is to consult a veterinarian. Seek out multiple opinions in order to determine what the best next steps are for your horse.