Whether it’s for an Olympic hopeful or a reliable trail horse, Palm Beach Equine Clinic (PBEC), based in Wellington, FL, has more than 30 years of proven success keeping the horses in its care healthy and happy while working to extend their performance careers. In addition to innovative veterinary services that utilize state-of-the-art diagnostic tools and surgical equipment, PBEC also offers several alternative therapies that can optimize a horse’s health and increase the longevity of their career.
Veterinary chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture, and Chinese herbal medicine are three alternatives to standard medical treatments offered at PBEC. While all of PBEC’s veterinarians are versed in the many methodologies of equine medicine, several of the doctors have studied extensively in alternative therapies. Dr. Natalia Novoa treats horses with chiropractic manipulation and acupuncture, and Dr. Janet Greenfield-Davis focuses specifically in acupuncture treatment and uses Chinese herbal medicine to bring out the best in her patients.
PBEC’s own Dr. Richard Wheeler spoke of how alternative medicine can be used to improve a horse’s chance for success and treat many different issues.
“The line between success and failure is very thin for performance horses, and a lot of these alternative therapies can be very useful in giving the horse that little bit more,” he explained. “Chiropractic and acupuncture are just two alternative therapies that we offer. They are both conjunctive therapies that can keep horses comfortable, happy and performing well.
“Both chiropractic manipulation and acupuncture can get the horse moving a little bit better and can help to maintain some minor chronic problems that they may have, therefore avoiding more invasive treatments,” Dr. Wheeler continued. “For neck or back pain, once we diagnose a problem, we may treat it and then follow up with a program of alternative therapies. These therapies are used with the aim of keeping the horse supple and moving with ease, and helping the musculature to work correctly. We work with the trainers to optimize muscle development so that we can fix the problem and keep the horse moving forward and performing at the top level.”
Dr. Greenfield-Davis is one of the veterinarians at PBEC that is skilled in acupuncture and herbal medicine. Acupuncture is a form of treatment used in both traditional and classical Chinese medicine. It is based on the principle that there are energetic pathways, or channels, throughout the body that influence associated internal organs and structures. Energy from these pathways surface at various points on the body, identified as acupuncture points. Extremely fine gauge needles are inserted at selected points, stimulating these points and thereby activating the body’s natural healing abilities.
“We offer acupuncture, chiropractic and herbal medicine as an alternative or adjunct therapy to your current veterinary protocol,” Dr. Greenfield-Davis explained. “With acupuncture, we stimulate particular points that can relieve pain, increase endorphins, calm, and improve health and body function in horses. These specific points have a high capacity of nerve endings, lymphatic vessels, and blood vessels, as well as hormone stimulation.”
Clinical trials indicate that acupuncture may be an effective adjunct therapy for musculoskeletal problems such as muscle soreness, back pain, disc problems, osteoarthritis, and degenerative joint disease. Acupuncture may help neurological disorders such as laryngeal hemiplegia, and facial and radial nerve paralysis. It can help with gastrointestinal disorders including diarrhea, gastric ulcers, colic, and impaction. Acupuncture may also help with respiratory diseases, metabolic and endocrine diseases, and other chronic conditions, such as anhidrosis, heaves, asthma, cough, uveitis, and behavioral problems.
Alternative therapies such as acupuncture and chiropractic manipulation have gained popularity over the past years. Offering these therapies allows PBEC to treat horses in other ways in addition to their standard practices of equine medicine. Dr. Novoa is one of the veterinarians at PBEC who offers both chiropractic and acupuncture therapies for her clients.
“Chiropractic is an excellent complementary modality that can be used for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of selected neuromusculoskeletal disorders,” Dr. Novoa explained. “The practice of chiropractic focuses on the relationship between structure (primary spinal column) and function (coordinated by the nervous system) to restore it. The goal is to treat soft tissue injuries or articular dysfunction to optimize health through manual therapy and to detect and treat abnormalities and alleviate pain.”
Veterinary chiropractic manipulation is thought to optimize equine health by restoring the normal joint motion, reversing mild pathology, and helping to slow the progression of degenerative joint and spine disease. Over the years, this therapy has become a valuable adjunct for competition horses.
Chiropractic manipulation is also a great treatment option for horses that suffer neck and back pain, nerve damage, poor performance, behavioral problems, muscle spasms, localized or regional joint stiffness, unexplained lameness, gait abnormalities asymmetry/muscle imbalance/atrophy, injuries resulting from falls, trauma (such as slips, getting cast in the stall, or missteps), or poor fitting equipment.
“I identify the restricted movement or subluxations by manipulating and evaluating the joint mobilization. Then I restore the joint motion with an adjustment, which is a manual controlled force applied to a specific joint,” Dr. Novoa said of the process.
Chiropractic and acupuncture therapies are complementary treatments for lameness problems and other issues. They are alternative methods and do not replace conventional veterinary medicine or surgery, but can be very useful in maintaining top performance levels in your horse.
“There has been an increase of interest in non-traditional therapy, and PBEC is aware of its great value, so we provide the services to allow our horses to reach maximum performance potential and overall health,” Dr. Novoa concluded.
Have further questions about the regenerative therapy programs available at PBEC? Call the clinic today at 561-793-1599 to learn more.