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Evaluation of electroacupuncture treatment of horses with signs of chronic thoracolumbar pain

Huisheng Xie DVM, PhD1, Patrick Colahan DVM, DACVS2, and Edgar A. Ott PhD3
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  • 1 Department of Large Animal Clinical Science, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610- 0136.
  • | 2 Department of Large Animal Clinical Science, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610- 0136.
  • | 3 Department of Animal Sciences, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate use of electroacupuncture for treatment of horses with signs of chronic thoracolumbar pain.

Design—Prospective study.

Animals—15 horses with signs of chronic thoracolumbar pain.

Procedure—Horses were randomly allocated to 1 of 3 treatment groups. Horses in group 1 received electroacupuncture stimulation (once every 3 days for 5 treatments), those in group 2 received phenylbutazone (2.2 mg/kg [1 mg/lb], PO, q 12 h, for 5 days), and those in group 3 received saline (0.9% NaCl) solution (20 mL, PO, q 12 h, for 5 days). Thoracolumbar pain scores (TPSs) were evaluated before (baseline) and after each treatment.

Results—Mean ± SE TPSs in horses receiving phenylbutazone or saline solution did not change significantly during the study. After the third treatment, mean ± SE TPS (2.1 ± 0.6) in horses receiving electroacupuncture stimulation was significantly lower than baseline (6.0 ± 0.6) TPS. Mean ± SE TPSs in horses receiving electroacupuncture stimulation were significantly lower than baseline TPSs and TPSs in horses receiving phenylbutazone or saline solution after the third treatment to 14 days after the last treatment.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—TPSs are useful for evaluating the efficacy of various analgesic methods used for treatment of thoracolumbar pain in horses. Electroacupuncture was effective for treatment of chronic thoracolumbar pain in horses. Results provided evidence that 3 sessions of electroacupuncture treatment can successfully alleviate signs of thoracolumbar pain in horses. The analgesic effect induced by electroacupuncture can last at least 2 weeks. Phenylbutazone administered PO did not effectively alleviate signs of thoracolumbar pain in horses in this study. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2005;227:281–286)

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate use of electroacupuncture for treatment of horses with signs of chronic thoracolumbar pain.

Design—Prospective study.

Animals—15 horses with signs of chronic thoracolumbar pain.

Procedure—Horses were randomly allocated to 1 of 3 treatment groups. Horses in group 1 received electroacupuncture stimulation (once every 3 days for 5 treatments), those in group 2 received phenylbutazone (2.2 mg/kg [1 mg/lb], PO, q 12 h, for 5 days), and those in group 3 received saline (0.9% NaCl) solution (20 mL, PO, q 12 h, for 5 days). Thoracolumbar pain scores (TPSs) were evaluated before (baseline) and after each treatment.

Results—Mean ± SE TPSs in horses receiving phenylbutazone or saline solution did not change significantly during the study. After the third treatment, mean ± SE TPS (2.1 ± 0.6) in horses receiving electroacupuncture stimulation was significantly lower than baseline (6.0 ± 0.6) TPS. Mean ± SE TPSs in horses receiving electroacupuncture stimulation were significantly lower than baseline TPSs and TPSs in horses receiving phenylbutazone or saline solution after the third treatment to 14 days after the last treatment.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—TPSs are useful for evaluating the efficacy of various analgesic methods used for treatment of thoracolumbar pain in horses. Electroacupuncture was effective for treatment of chronic thoracolumbar pain in horses. Results provided evidence that 3 sessions of electroacupuncture treatment can successfully alleviate signs of thoracolumbar pain in horses. The analgesic effect induced by electroacupuncture can last at least 2 weeks. Phenylbutazone administered PO did not effectively alleviate signs of thoracolumbar pain in horses in this study. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2005;227:281–286)