Disease Du Jour: Thoughts on Equine Acupuncture

While acupuncture might not be the first tool for all equine problems, it is huge for pain relief and chronic conditions, said Dr. Ann-Marie Aumann.
horse acupuncture back
“One of the go-to things acupuncture is useful for is pain management,” stated Dr. Ann-Marie Aumann.
Amy Dragoo photo

In episode 81 of the Disease Du Jour podcast, we talk with Ann-Marie Aumann, DVM, CVA, CVCH, owner of Del Dios Veterinary Acupuncture, on the topic of Thoughts on Equine Acupuncture.

“One of the go-to things acupuncture is useful for is pain management,” stated Aumann. For example, she said with laminitis cases, there are many ways to help the horse be comfortable. “Acupuncture can be helpful to get the horse over the threshold and back to a healing state.”

She noted that there is a lot of research on pain management and use of acupuncture in humans, and a lot of research has been done on acupuncture use for nausea in humans.

“For chronic disease states, acupuncture is a good tool,” Aumann noted. “I tell clients, ‘If I get hit by a bus, give me morphine and surgery. But if I have a chronic problem, give me acupuncture to help the body heal.’ ”

Her point was that in many cases, acupuncture is not the first tool, but it is huge in pain relief and for chronic conditions.

Using acupuncture for behavior issues is challenging because of the human component, she noted. “How much is either a pain response—musculoskeletal or visceral stomach or ulcer,” she said.

“One of the powerhouses of acupuncture is the diagnostic scan,” Auman emphasized. “When I’m working with a referral veterinarian, and they have already done all of their due diligence. They’ve done all the testing. The top differentials are negative and they are really scratching their head. When you do the acupuncture scan, it can be really helpful in directing further diagnostics. If that horse is sensitive for all of the acupuncture points associated with the front feet, then maybe we look at what’s going on there.

“Or maybe the body feels great, but it’s on fire with acupuncture points associated with the stomach,” she continued. “If they haven’t done a gastroscopy, that’s the perfect time to do it. What I tell people is that all of your conventional diagnostics are still the gold standards for working up this horse. When you bring in acupuncture, it’s another lens; another piece of information that can help direct all of our conventional diagnostic tools.”

Aumann said acupuncture isn’t appropriate for trauma, but it is good after the trauma is taken care of.

Auman went on to discuss other appropriate uses for acupuncture, how veterinarians can find a qualified equine acupuncturist, and how referring vets should expect to work with a certified acupuncturist.

About Dr. Aumann

Aumann established Del Dios Veterinary Acupuncture to focus on healing patients through Traditional Chinse Veterinary Medicine by providing acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to equine and canine patients.

Aumann obtained her DVM from the Western University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine in Southern California. During veterinary school, she attended the Chi Institute near Ocala, Florida, where she studied Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine and became a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Aumann then became a Certified Veterinary Chinese Herbalist through the Chi Institute and continues to advance her education in this specialty.

She serves on the board of the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncturists.

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