Last spring Freedom was suffering from what we thought to be a pulled gluteal muscle. I’d seen him slip on some ice and after a few days of real lameness, he was just stiff.
A friend of mine, who is also a vet, offered to treat him using acupuncture to see if it helped. (You can read about it here – Freedom gets acupuncture).
Freedom was not a very cooperative patient. He’d just as soon body slam you into the wall than let you stick needles into him. Of course, he’s a lot like that when he’s being groomed, too.
But the acupuncture did make a real difference. After the sessions he was more relaxed and it seems to have helped accelerate the healing. After a few sessions he was much improved and I went back to giving him acupressure massage.
It seems like equine acupuncture is gaining more mainstream acceptance. There are more vets in my area who offer it and owners are starting to think about it for treatment.
So, how does acupuncture work?
Inserting acupuncture needles stimulates tiny nerve endings that carry impulses to the spinal cord and brain. This releases enkephalins, endorphins, and serotonin, which all act as natural painkillers — this can be a real benefit for competition horses where treatment by drugs would be banned.
Acupuncture is used to:
- relieve muscle spasms
- speed the healing process by removing toxins and increasing blood flow
- release the body’s natural cortisone to reduce swelling and
- boost the immune system
While it can be used to treat specific issues, some horse owners also use it as part of a general maintenance program (like massage) to keep their horse comfortable.
So, tell me what have your experiences been with acupuncture for your horse?