Acupuncture has been used to treat various medical conditions in both humans and animals for over 3,000 years. At River’s Edge Pet Medical Center, we are pleased to offer equine acupuncture to our clients as a treatment option for several conditions, including musculoskeletal disorders, minimizing the side effects of chemotherapy, and back pain.

What is equine acupuncture?

During treatment, a certified veterinary acupuncturist will insert ultra-fine, sterilized needles into the skin and underlying tissues at specific locations known acupoints. Acupoints are typically areas with free nerve endings and trigger the nervous system to respond when stimulated. Stimulation of acupoints by needles can be accomplished through rotation, weak electrical currents, or heat. The stimulation prompts the body to heal and restore normal function to the muscles, joints, and other bodily systems within the area.

What conditions can acupuncture treat?

We often recommend acupuncture in conjunction with other medications for a variety of conditions including:

  • Chronic conditions
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Musculoskeletal problems
  • Neurological disorders
  • Side effects of chemotherapy
  • Skin conditions

Equine Acupuncture and Arthritis

Equine acupuncture has also proven effective in providing relief from arthritis. Arthritis is a common ailment that plagues both animals and humans alike. This joint inflammation can cause pain and stiffness that can be either acute or chronic. Arthritis can be caused by a variety of factors such as infection, injury, or cumulative stress from daily activity. Horses may be at additional risk for developing arthritis if they already have issues with shoeing, trimming, hoof deformities, and genetic influences.

While many horses only experience arthritis when they are older, younger horses are still susceptible to stiffness and lameness that may be a result of some form of arthritis. For this reason, it is important to take note of any changes you notice and bring them to our attention. Early treatment is always preferable, so that we can help the horse continue a comfortable life and optimal mobility as he or she ages. This is usually achieved through a combination of treatments in addition to rest and medication.

Does acupuncture have side effects?

In most cases, there are no negatives to trying acupuncture for treatment or symptom relief. Side effects of acupuncture are rare, but do exist. Your horse’s condition may seem to temporarily worsen after treatment or cause them to become lethargic or sleepy.

These effects are typically an indication of physiological changes occurring and are often followed by an improvement in condition. However, if these effects continue 72 hours after treatment, please contact our office.


We typically offer acupuncture as a complementary treatment option, used in conjunction with other treatment options such as rest and medication.

Our veterinarian acupuncturist will perform a full examination and review your horse’s medical records and symptoms before recommending treatment. A diagnostic acupoint exam is then conducted to identify particular acupoints that may be the source of pain or distress.

The length of treatment may take 20-60 minutes and the number of needles inserted across the body will depend on the condition. The number of treatments necessary for your horse’s condition will depend on the condition, severity of the condition, and age of the horse. Acute conditions typically resolve within 1-5 treatment sessions while more chronic conditions may take 5-10 sessions. For degenerative conditions, we recommend monthly maintenance sessions.

Treatment does not hurt. Most animals tolerate the treatment well and progressively relax during the session as the nervous system adjusts to the stimulation.

How much does treatment cost?

A treatment session for equine acupuncture can range from $100-200, depending on the condition and number of needles used.

For more information on equine acupuncture or to schedule an appointment, please contact our office at (541) 924-1700.