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Acupuncture has been practiced in traditional Chinese veterinary medicine for thousands of years. Medical advancements give us scientific explanations about what occurs when acupuncture points are stimulated, and why they exist in certain anatomic locations. Acupuncture points are specific sites on the body. Each point has unique physiologic, therapeutic, and symbolic meaning. The points are located in regions where nerves enter or exit muscles, at muscle-tendon junctions, and near superficial nerve plexuses. Acupuncture has local and systemic effects. Activation of an acupuncture point creates a micro trauma reaction, which stimulates blood flow, increases immune responsiveness, and promotes relaxation of muscles and tissues surrounding that area. Systemic effects are achieved via activation of the nervous system, which then induces changes in the endocrine and immune systems

Acupuncture can be a great option for horses in any stage of life or career. Acupuncture is an excellent modality to use as part of a general wellness plan and to support the athlete throughout competition. It is a great non-pharmacological option for horses dealing with chronic pain. It is also an important component in a horse’s rehabilitation plan. Acupuncture can help manage pain related to their injury as well as address any compensatory soreness or lameness that may arise due to rest.


One of our goals as sports medicine practitioners is to promote health, not just to treat injury or disease. Acupuncture addresses the whole horse and helps the body heal itself.


Conditions that may be treated with acupuncture --

• Thoracolumbar pain

• Lumbosacral pain

• Cervical pain

• Navicular syndrome

• Laminitis

• Tendinitis/desmitis

• Neurological conditions

• Respiratory conditions

• Gastrointestinal conditions


What to expect?

Horses may be treated with a combination of dry-needle acupuncture (needles), electroacupuncture (use of electrical current passed through needles), and/or with laser therapy (low-power laser applied to acupuncture points). An individualized program will be determined for each horse based on the horse’s history, acupuncture exam, and traditional performance exam. During an acupuncture exam, the practitioner will palpate points to assess for reactivity. This may indicate pain at the specific points, or indicate another problem associated with that meridian. The exam and treatment takes approximately 45 min

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