The effects of acupuncture on gait parameters in the horse
Acupuncture is an increasingly more used modality in human medicine. Even though the exact mechanisms have not been uncovered, research suggests that it triggers pain modulating mechanisms. This technique is often used to alleviate orthopaedic pain in horses, but there was still a lack of decent studies to back the use of this treatment. This study measured subjective and objective gait parameters to quantify the effect.
8 horses were divided in 2 groups. First, their gait was analysed, after which half of the horses received acupuncture treatment. After 12 weeks, the groups were reversed. Treatment points were identified through palpation: 11 points were identified. The needles were left in place for 20 minutes, with added gentle stimulation. The treatment was repeated twice within 8 days, each time by the same therapist. The gait analysis was performed each time directly before and after treatment.
After treatment, decreased hip hike was found, as well as a more symmetrical movement. Several parameters improved, however, the global lameness score did not alter. Results were not alike in all horses, suggesting that some horses respond better to acupuncture than others.
Expert opinion by Charlotte De Bruyne
More research is needed, but the consistency of the results suggests that this modality could be a useful treatment option when treating myofascial issues.
> From: Dunkel et al., Vet Anaesth Analg 44 (2017) 154-162. All rights reserved to Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.. Click here for the online summary.