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Q&A: Uses for acupuncture

Q. I am interested in alternative veterinary medicine and would like to know more about acupuncture, specifically in relation to horses. What equine complaints can it help?

Nick Thompson MRCVS, of holisticvet.co.uk, answers: “Musculoskeletal problems are the main area for acupuncture. However, it can also be used in colics and may help treat incontinence, laminitis, COPD, skin problems and even conjunctivitis.

Overall, it is a great aid to the equine practitioner, as there aremany complaints that modern medicine finds difficult to treat that acupuncture can sometimes clear up.

Back pain for example is a major condition that can be successfully treated with acupuncture.

The conventional approach to back problems is to prescribe rest and a course of anti-inflammatories, after which many owners will turn to manipulation.

Although this can help, I don’t like the “whack and crack” type back manipulator. In my opinion, it is impossible for a human being to move equine joints in the neck and back, on a conscious horse, through brute force alone. If owners choose to use manipulation over acupuncture I strongly recommend they find a properly qualified chiropractor or osteopath.

Lameness associated with soft tissue damage can often be alleviated using acupuncture. For example, muscle or tendon strains and post-surgery or bowed tendons.

Rheumatic or old age lameness due to joint degeneration may also benefit hugely from the technique.”

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