Comparison of first and second acupuncture treatments in horses with chronic laminitis

Document Type : Full paper (Original article)


1 College of Veterinary Medicine, Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, CA 91766-1854, USA

2 El Cajon Valley Veterinary Hospital, El Cajon, CA, USA


Background: Laminitis is a common but critical disease that causes severe pain and disability in horses. The etiology and pathogenesis of laminitis remain inconclusive and a multimodal therapeutic approach is generally indicated. Acupuncture has been used as a treatment option; however, the required number of treatments is still controversial due to the lack of objective scientific evidence. Aims: The objective of this study was to determine if the response to a second acupuncture treatment differed from the response to the first acupuncture treatment in horses with chronic laminitis. Methods: Fourteen horses with chronic laminitis were identified. Acupuncture points were determined based on the results of a diagnostic acupuncture palpation examination. The second acupuncture treatment and lameness examination were conducted one week after the first treatment. Ten minutes after each acupuncture treatment, a lameness examination was performed and included an objective examination using a body-mounted inertial sensor system called “Lameness Locator” and a routine lameness examination following the “American Association of Equine Practitioners” (AAEP) lameness scale. The level of lameness was statistically analyzed using paired t-test and Wilcoxon signed rank test with p-values <0.05 considered significant. Results: Both objective (P=0.042) and routine lameness examinations (P=0.027) showed that the level of lameness significantly decreased after the second acupuncture treatment compared to the response to the first treatment. Conclusion: The results of this study suggest that continued acupuncture treatments will result in increasing levels of pain relief, showing the advantage of performing more than one acupuncture treatment in horses with chronic laminitis.


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