The use of multiple modalities and treatment philosophies in conjunction with traditional veterinary therapies to support and enhance the well-being and performance of our patients.
Chiropractic/Spinal Manipulation Therapy
This modality focuses on the overall health of the equine musculoskeletal system as a relationship between structural (bones, joints, mainly of vertebral column) and function (coordination of nervous system). When there are restrictions within structure, optimal function can not occur and are manifested in pain, changes in posture and altered movement. Via rigorous study of anatomy, observation and palpation of normal ranges of motion and movement, and manual techniques to correct abnormal restrictions—commonly know as adjustments, practitioners can assist horses achieve a comfortable and functional musculoskeletal system.
Acupuncture is a branch of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) that has been practiced for thousands of years. Very thin needles are placed in specific points (acupoints) all over the body in order to achieve balance. Research has shown that acupoints contain higher numbers of free nerve ending arterioles, mast cells, lymphatic vessels. When stimulating specific points, research has measured increases in endorphins (nature pain killers), anti-inflammatory mediators, and hormones like serotonin.
In 2018, Dr. Sullivan was trained at the Chi Institute in Reddick, Florida, and her education not only encompassed where acupuncture points are located but also the TCVM philosophy of treatment. In TCVM every individual has a personality related to the five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, wind), that predisposes that individual to certain imbalances. Five Element Theory allows the medical professional to better understand the patient and tailor treatment. What’s your horse’s personality?
In health, four aspects of the body and mind are balanced: yin, yang, blood and qi (pronounced chee). When one or more of these factors are over expressed (excess) or underexpressed (deficiency) the patient is not in harmony and will exhibit physical signs of distress. The goal of acupuncture is determining the pattern of illness via observing the tongue, feeling pulses, discussing the history and personality of the horse, and performing a scan of the body, to make an individualized treatment plan. Treatments involve a few or many needles, the addition of electroacupuncture, aquapuncture (where saline, vitamin B12 or the horse’s blood is injected into an acupoint), or massaging acupoints when needles are not tolerated. Sessions typically last less than an hour. For horses, results are usually seen in 3-5 treatments but some benefits may be seen rapidly; long standing issues typically take more sessions to treat.
Herbs may be recommended, which are used to increase and prolong the effects of acupuncture. The herbal formulas that are prescribed are sourced from Jing Tang Herbal, and the formulas are made in the United States.
Acupuncture is a modality that works hand in hand with traditional veterinary medicine. In addition to medications and treatments that are used every day by equine vets, acupuncture can aid in the healing time of wounds and tendon injuries, decrease pain from arthritis, improve fertility, decrease inflammatory flares like uveitis, and promote GI motility. Dr. Sullivan views acupuncture as another tool in her veterinary toolbox that enables her to enhance normal practices and provide options when traditional treatments have failed.