Equine acupuncture


The Langford Vets Equine Referral Hospital now offers an equine acupuncture service.

Acupuncture is a complementary therapy that acts to relieve pain and restore normal homeostasis through the release of endogenous opioids, increase in blood flow and alteration in pain signalling pathways. A range of conditions can be treated with acupuncture, with one of the main indications being musculoskeletal pain of the neck and back.

If you would like to refer a case, or discuss whether acupuncture would be suitable for your patient, please contact the Equine Centre.

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What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture has been practiced as part of traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, and has more recently adapted to incorporate knowledge of anatomy and physiology from western medicine. Traditionally acupuncture has been used to treat a wide variety of conditions.

What does acupuncture involve?

Acupuncture involves the stimulation of ‘acupoints’ which are specific anatomical landmarks, situated along different channels or meridians. Most channels are located within the fascial planes between muscles. The activation of acupoints can be done through various methods including:

  • Insertion of a fine needle (most common)
  • Application of pressure
  • Laser stimulation
  • Electrical stimulation

Dry needling is the act of stimulating myofascial trigger points (knots) within muscles, leading to a local twitch response.

How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture acts to relieve pain and restore normal homeostasis. There are several different mechanisms through which this occurs, including; the release of endogenous opioids, increase in blood flow and the alteration of pain signalling pathways.

Research has shown that the insertion of a fine needle into a myofascial trigger point leads to chemical changes, alterations in electrical signalling and muscle relaxation. 

What cases are suitable for treatment with acupuncture?

The main use of acupuncture is for the treatment of pain, with the aim to restore normal homeostasis. Acupuncture is a complementary therapy that works best when administered alongside traditional medical and surgical treatment. The types of cases suitable for acupuncture treatment include:

  • Muscle pain, spasm, atrophy and trigger points
  • Neck and back pain or stiffness
  • Lameness*
  • Poor performance
  • Routine maintenance for competition horses
  • Pain management tool for chronic conditions such as laminitis and osteoarthritis

*Investigation and diagnosis of the cause of orthopaedic pain is required prior to the administration of acupuncture treatment. 

How long does acupuncture last for?

A single acupuncture treatment provides short term relief however, there is a summative effect meaning that the duration of effect increases with each subsequent treatment. Exactly how long each treatment lasts depends on the patient and the condition being treated. The best and longest lasting effects occur with a course of regular treatments, and when administered alongside conventional medicine and surgery.

Who can provide acupuncture treatment?

By law, only qualified veterinary surgeons can administer acupuncture.

Laura Fitzharris BVSc CertESM MRCVS, part of the Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation team at the Langford Vets Equine Referral Hospital, is a member of the Association of British Veterinary Acupuncturists and is trained in acupuncture, dry needling and electroacupuncture.

Where will the acupuncture treatment be administered?

During this introductory period, acupuncture treatment is being offered at the Langford Vets Equine Referral Hospital. We aim to expand to provide an ambulatory service. 

When can acupuncture treatment be administered?

Appointment slots are on Mondays, but if another day is more suitable please speak to our reception team.

How much does it cost?

Introductory offer:

  • Initial consultation £60
  • Follow up consultation £40

Preparation for your appointment

  • Your horse needs to be clean and dry
  • Avoid booking appointments the day before a competition or lesson
  • We recommend a 24-hour period of rest (i.e. no ridden exercise) following treatment