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Q. I am very interested in alternative therapies. I have a horse who gets lameness problems and has had colic a few times. There is a vet locally who does acupuncture and I would like to know what sort of conditions this is used to treat. Can you help?

Nick Thompson MRCVS replies: Acupuncture(AP) can be used to treat virtually any condition you can think of! Believe it or not, it is useful in colic, some skin conditions, behavioural problems and small problems like conjunctivitis or sinusitis.

In Britain, it is mainly used for back and lameness problems, but in China it is used, along with herbs, to treat everything in every species!

The limiting factor, I am afraid to say, is the experience of the practitioner. There are only a few vets in the UK who have the knowledge and experience to use AP in medical as well as structural (musculoskeletal) problems.

There are many more, myself included, who use AP regularly to treat mainly musculoskeletal problems.

I will also use AP for some cases of infertility or behavioural problems in mares in season. Here, I’ll use homoeopathy too. So far the results are promising.

Acupunture can help treat the following:

  • Musculoskeletal lameness of unknown origin (after diagnostics, not before)
  • Navicular disease
  • Laminitis in some cases
  • Cold Back Syndrome etc.
  • Back pain of unknown origin
  • Respiratory problems
  • COPD/hay dust cough/hay allergy
  • Chronic nasal discharges
  • Chronic cough
  • Some forms of headshaking, but not idiopathic headshaking
  • Urinary infections
  • Incontinence
  • Kidney disease
  • Alimentary problems
  • Recurrent colic
  • Poor appetite
  • Diarrhoea and constipation
  • Infertility and other reproductive system problems
  • Cystic ovaries
  • Mares not coming into season
  • Excessive behaviour when in season.

Veterinary surgeons are the only people in the UK who are legally allowed to perform acupuncture on animals.

To find your nearest AP vet, send an SAE to Gill Hewson MRCVS, Secretary of the Association of British Veterinary Acupuncturists (ABVA), East Park Cottage, London Road, Hand Cross, West Sussex RH17 6BD.