Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points on the body (acupoints) with a very fine needle to produce a therapeutic effect. Chinese practitioners have used this treatment for over 2,000 years to promote health and treat disease. It is quickly gaining popularity in the United States as more people become familiar with its wide range of benefits.

There are many ways to effectively stimulate acupuncture points. The “dry needle” technique refers to placing very fine sterile metal needles in the selected points. Depending on your horse's condition, Dr. Rathbone may recommend usingelectro-acupuncture, moxabustion or aqua-puncture in addition to dry needles.

 A horse receiving electro-acupuncture

A horse receiving electro-acupuncture

Electro-acupuncture (left) involves stimulating acupoints with mild electrical current. This technique can be very effective for pain relief, neurologic deficits, and increasing the potency of the treatment. Moxabustion involves warming acupoints with a smoldering herb (called moxa). In addition to providing heat, the herb is thought to improve healing. Aqua-puncture involves injecting small amounts of fluid (usually a combination of saline and vitamin B12) into the acupoint. Small hypodermic needles are used in place of acupuncture needles.