Acupuncture is a complementary therapy which can be used with great success alongside conventional medical and surgical rehabilitation methods, to prevent and treat disease.
Treatment involves inserting small, fine acupuncture needles into specific sites on the horse’s body, which stimulate nerve endings that carry impulses to the spinal cord and brain. The whole body of the horse can be palpated initially, identifying areas of tension and muscle spasm. Needles can then be carefully placed where required, triggering a response directly and indirectly to the nervous and endocrine systems, leading to the release of positive neurotransmitters and hormones in the body and brain of the horse.
Acupuncture increases the release of natural painkillers such as endorphins, enkephalins and serotonin which act on the pain pathways in the brain and spinal cord of humans and animals alike, thus blocking the transmission of incoming pain signals. Most horses not only tolerate the treatment but hugely enjoy it, and riders can then feel a fantastic difference in the movement of their horse after a course of treatment.
In equine practice, acupuncture is most commonly used for the relief of musculoskeletal pain. It is especially beneficial for treating any type of muscle soreness, particularly of the neck, shoulders, back and hindquarters. It can also have brilliant results during a period of rehabilitation post surgery, most notably with back surgery.
Horses can be treated at home or at the clinic, as long as a quiet stable or area without bedding is available. By law, acupuncture can only be performed on animals by a qualified veterinary surgeon who has undergone further training in this technique.