Acupressure Points for Equine Swelling and Pain
It seems my horses are giving me no shortage of blog post ideas as of lately. I’ve gone for years with no accidents or illnesses and then all of a sudden–bam! They all seem to hit at once. I guess that’s how it usually goes though. . .
I have one especially accident-prone horse–Bob. A couple of days ago, I noticed Bob was moving stiffly and slowly as he made his way to the barn for dinner. Upon inspection, I noticed a small area on his left hip where the hide had been rubbed off. It was bleeding a little, but didn’t seem to be a big deal. I figured he must have rubbed it on a post while going out of his stall or something.
The next day, it was the same thing. Bob was the last one to the barn for breakfast and I could tell he was in pain as he walked. When he did finally make it to his stall, I inspected him again. He was very sore to the touch in the hip and flank area and I noticed some swelling as well. He must have whacked it pretty hard–poor guy!
Of course, one of my first at-home, DIY treatment options is always acupressure. There are many situations in which acupressure can be used to benefit horses, and localized pain and swelling is one of them.
Acupressure is the Traditional Chinese Medicine modality of using finger pressure to stimulate specific points (known as acu-points) on the body to promote healing. Horses tend to be very receptive to acupressure and usually, only light pressure is needed.
When employing acupressure, use your forefinger or thumb to apply the pressure and hold each acu-point for about 10-15 seconds or until a ‘release’, such as licking and chewing, is witnessed.
Something to keep in mind is that horses likely don’t want to be touched in the exact area where they’re experiencing pain (would you?), so depending on where your horse’s injury is, you may or may not be able to use all of the acupressure points listed below. The cool thing about acupressure is that you don’t have to prod around only in the area of the injury, though. Acu-points located in various locations all over the body can actually be beneficial for a specific, injured area (known as distal acu-points.)
Here are some general acupressure points for equine swelling and pain:
Click on photo to enlarge
Stomach 2: Pain relief point. Relaxes muscles and tendons. Located about midway between the nostril and eye on the side of the face.
Triple Heater 5: Alleviates pain. Located between the radius and ulna (two bones of the upper foreleg) just above the ‘knee’.
Spleen 21: Relieves generalized body soreness. Located in the 10th intercostal space (space between ribs), at the same level as the point of the shoulder. (Most horses have 18 ribs, so it’s easier to count backwards from the last rib.)
Bladder 20: Benefits edema (swelling). Located about one hand width from the spine and in between the last intercostal space.
Bladder 60: Aspirin Point. Reduces pain and swelling anywhere in the body. Located in the ‘skinniest’ point of the outer hock. (Important Note: Don’t use on a pregnant mare, as this point can also expedite labor!)
Remember that these acupressure points are bilateral–meaning they are located on both sides of your horse. After you stimulate the acu-points on one side of the horse, repeat on the other side of the horse.
If your horse is especially sensitive to a certain acu-point, he is telling you something. Never apply pressure to an area if your horse is in obvious discomfort. And of course, if the injury is serious, don’t rely on acupressure alone to treat it–see your veterinarian!
To read more about equine acupressure, see these posts:
Or check out this page, to see a listing and links to all of my equine acupressure posts.
If you’d like to learn more about equine acupressure, I recommend Equine Acupressure: A Working Manual. I love this book!