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Medicine and alternative therapy have been present in people's lives for centuries with spectacular results on their health. Currently, much of the alternative therapies have been applied to horses as well as many horse owners use alternative therapy as an adjunct to traditional medicine and sometimes even as a single treatment of health problems.
The following alternative therapies have also been successfully used in horses:
What it is: Acupuncture is a procedure in which tiny needles are inserted at specific locations of the body for therapeutic purposes. This procedure was originally developed by the ancient Chinese, who believed that these anatomic locations were portals in the skin. Through these portals, the ancient acupuncturist could access meridians, or energy channels, that communicated with internal organs. Experiment-based research has since shown us that these points are actually anatomic locations particularly rich in nerve endings and/or blood vessels. When needles are placed in these locations, neurotransmitters and other local factors are released, starting cascades that ultimately lead to body-wide therapeutic effects. An acupuncture treatment involves placement of needles into the points appropriate for your horse's specific problems.
When to use it: Acupuncture is a very effective treatment option to help minimize performance-related muscular soreness or to manage compensatory soreness secondary to other injuries. It's especially likely to be recommended as a first line of treatment for your horse if he suffers from back pain.Many people don't realize that acupuncture can also be a useful therapy for problems beyond the musculoskeletal system. For example, a mare with decreased fertility may be having difficulty clearing fluid from her uterus. Acupuncture can help lead to smooth muscle contractions of the uterus, thereby helping the mare clean herself out.
Or, if your horse has allergy problems (hives, skin rashes, or a chronic cough), acupuncture, in combination with medical therapy, can help control symptoms and improve his response to other medications. Acupuncture may even be used to relieve jaw pain following a dental procedure, or to help quiet intestinal spasms that occur during an acute colic.
What it is: Chiropractic involves manipulation of the bones to restore proper alignment of the vertebrae or other joints when they've been disrupted. The bones of the spine and joints should be maintained in a specific alignment, and any change in that alignment is called a subluxation. Subluxation can impact nerves, muscles, and joints in the surrounding area, which can cause pain and discomfort. A subluxation may even have an effect on other organs in the body due to the disruption of nerve supply and blood flow.
When to use it: Chiropractic adjustment can be particularly useful for horses with back pain, especially when the condition is accompanied by visible asymmetry such as a horse that travels crooked, carries its tail to one side, or has a consistent headtilt. Stiffness and training issues unassociated with apparent lameness often will respond well to chiropractic therapy. The well-trained chiropractor will examine your horse carefully to identify any subluxations, and then will make necessary adjustments.