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Health Tip

Equine Acupuncture

The use of acupuncture for treating horses is known to have started not long after the technique was first used on humans between 4 and five thousand years ago.in basic terms it is similar to human acupuncture, although in practice it has a significant difference.

Diagnostic benefits

Although it can help cure many ailments and injuries, acupuncture is fundamentally planned around treating symptoms rather than actual problems, particularly pain. In horses, the identification and classification of symptoms is much more difficult than in humans, as the patient is unable to add their own opinion and description to the diagnosis. Many equine acupuncturists use acupressure and acupuncture as a supplementary diagnostic technique, gauging the horse’s reaction to certain stimuli. Once diagnosis is carried out, some acupuncture techniques are used to treat certain conditions, but it is most beneficial in identifying problems, their location and whether or not they are a primary injury or secondary damage caused by favouring parts of the body.

Qualification levels

Acceptance of acupuncture in the equine community is considerably higher than among physicians dealing with humans in the west. A significant difference is that there are few equine acupuncturists who are not also veterinarians, whereas in human treatment there are many acupuncture practitioners who are not also trained as physicians.

Successful treatments

The most common problems treated by acupuncture in horses are lameness and back problems, with considerable success in both cases. Due to the massively reduced risk of complications and side effects, and the quick effects that can be achieved, acupuncture is considered much more useful than surgery or rest for many minor problems. Acupuncture is also relatively cheap when compared with some drug based and almost all surgical treatments. Other problems often treated with acupuncture and related therapies are navicular disease, laminitis and heaves.

Scientifically proven to work

Although opinion is divided as to why and how acupuncture works, there is undeniable proof of it working in many cases. This has meant that in cases where conventional treatments are often unsuccessful, lameness in particular, acupuncture should be seriously considered by any horse owner, in discussion with their regular veterinary professional. As a diagnostic tool, its effectiveness will depend on the level of training of the vet in question, but it is becoming more and more included in standard veterinary courses. Diagnostically, acupressure can be a useful tool for a horse owner themselves, although training is required to be able to use it properly and safely.

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