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Written by a Medical Acupuncture for Veterinarians course graduate. Author’s name available upon request. Signed release obtained from client/author/4978.

Abstract:

A competition show hunter/jumper, the owner wanted pre-show “tune-up” to maximize performance.

History/Presentation:

Sunny is a 7 year old Warmblood gelding who had gotten a large presumptive spider bite/hematoma in his right caudal thigh in 6/2016. He had a chiropractic exam and treatment 10/1 /16 and was told he had a stiff neck. He lives in a stall with adequate bedding, gets daily turnouts and eurosizer sessions. He is ridden on the flat 3 days a week, and jumps 2 days a week.

Physical Examination and Clinical Assessments:

Sunny is well muscled, he has a cresty neck and is well fleshed. He had taught bands in his neck along the splenius and brachiocephalicus muscles bilaterally. His left shoulder was sore where the the cranial deltoid and brachiocephalicus muscles meet. He had trigger points in his longissimus dorsi along the lumbar region especially at L2-3 bilaterally. His right hind caudal thigh was so tender in the semimembranosis muscle he kicked when it was touched, and it had to be palpated from the left side. He would stretch his neck only to his carpi. His left hind leg he would only extend partially forward. Lumbosacral and sacroiliac palpation was normal. Neurologically he was clinically normal.

Medical Decision Making:

I wanted to ease the pain in Sunny’s neck and right hind leg. He needed his cervical nerves and neck musculature and fascia treated. The months of favoring his right hind thigh were causing him to balance unevenly by carrying his neck higher than was normal and this strained his cervical spine. I also wanted to decrease the chronic reactivity of his right hind semimenbranosis and semitendinosis musculature, and sciatic nerve. His lumbar spine was sore from saddle placement and from his uneven weight bearing and uneven gait in his hind end, so I chose points to treat the thoracolumbar fascia, ileocostalis and longissimus musculature.

Acupuncture Treatment:

The plan was to treat Sunny weekly and evaluate his progress. He has been treated three times to date, 10/29/16, 1 /29/16 and 2/4/16. Sunny is very sensitive to needle placement. I started with bilateral LI 16 for calming, and GB21 for cervicothoracic nerve stimulation. Bilateral; BL 1 O for the cranial cervical nerves and muscles, and BL21 for thoracolumbar nerves and fascia. GV14 for cervicothoracic pain. Upon further treatments, I was able to treat more points which included; bilateral BL 10, BL 11, BL 13, SI 16, GB21, TH16 for sore brachiocephalicus and splenius muscles and cervicothoracic fascia, bilateral BL 21, BL25, BL26, and BaiHui for thoracolumbar and lumbosacral nerves and thoracolumbar fascia. BL36 and GB29 for myofascial restriction in the hamstring muscles and sciatic nerve pain. Each acupuncture treatment included a laser therapy session of 12W for 24 minutes to his lumbar spine, hamstrings and neck.

Outcomes, Discussions and References:

After Sunny’s first acupuncture and laser treatment, Sunny was able to extend his neck more freely, and he had a more even gait. This was the first time he had been able to extend his neck fully. After the second and third treatments, he was moving much more evenly and the strength in his hind legs was more balanced. He went from jumping 3’6″ to 4’6″. He doesn’t kick anymore when his hind legs are palpated or his hooves are picked.

I recommended Sunny’s owner do carrot stretches twice weekly and lumbar massage after riding.

His owner and the trainer are very pleased with his improvement.

This case for me reinforced that even with using just a few needles, many areas of the body are influenced due to the large amount of fascial connections in the body.

References:

  1. A Pilot Study of the Effects of Acupuncture Treatment on objective and subjective gait parameters in horses. Vet Anaesth. Analog. 2016 Mar 4, Dunkel B, Pfau T, et al.
  2. Acupuncture and Equine Rehabilitation, Vet Clin North Am Equine Pract. 2016 Apr.;32(1) 73-85 Le June S, Henneman K, May K