Thursday, June 01, 2006

Patients with Four Legs

Because veterinary acupuncture is almost exclusively limited to Doctors of Veterinary Medicine, my personal experience with equine acupuncture has been limited to observational training. Both the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS) and its affiliate organization The American academy of Veterinary Acupuncture(AAVA) have done a wonderful job providing continuing educations for veterinarians who want to practice Oriental Medicine techniques. They have nearly 100 members, all DVMs, with the highest number of practitioners in CA, VA, KY, and NJ. Continuing education classes very, but I was delighted to find that the Chi Institute ( takes their education seriously and offers both basic and Master's level course work for those interested in certifying. Who knows - maybe one day there will be an "Official Acupuncturist of the Kentucky Derby."

A Stick in Time
by: Marcia King
June 2006 Article # 7004

Your reining horse isn't sinking as deeply into his hocks as he used to. Your hunter refuses jumps that should be no big deal. Your dressage horse isn't bending properly. Your endurance horse flinches when he's saddled up. It's an old story: Acute or chronic pain that hinders a horse's performance. The traditional treatment usually involves anti-inflammatories coupled with rest or exercise modification. But in the last 30-some years, acupuncture has emerged as an increasingly important component in keeping the performance horse performing.

Lameness is the most common for which acupuncture is used, so acupuncture lends itself quite well for keeping the performance horse sound. "Depending on the individual case, I usually use acupuncture as an adjunct or additional therapy for chronic problems," says Rathgeber. "But I also use acupuncture as a drug-free alternative for pain or discomfort in both acute and chronic cases for shows or if an owner does not want to use drugs. Some horses are very sensitive to anti-inflammatory agents; they don't experience side effects with acupuncture."

Acupuncture is still perceived by some as a last ditch effort, but that appears to be changing. "Recent experience has proven acupuncture to be very helpful in improving the health and performance of the equine athlete in areas where Western medical choices are lacking or unavailable due to medication restrictions," Luckenbill stresses. "Today, acupuncture is a widely used modality in equine sports medicine. Whether used as a stand-alone therapy or in conjunction with other treatment options, acupuncture is gaining in popularity as an integral part of the total health care approach to performance-related soreness."

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