Veterinarians increasingly using acupuncture, other alternative therapies

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OLD BETHPAGE, N.Y. (CBS) More and more Americans are turning to alternative therapies to heal injuries and treat chronic health issues. But those treatments are not just for people. Horses are receiving acupuncture, chiropractic care, massage and muscle stimulation.

Veterinarian Anne Bukenhofer is what you might call a Horse Needler. She's twisting and pushing 2-inch needles deep into the backside of Tonya, a 21-year-old show horse.

In human years he's about 63, so he's had his share of injuries and arthritis from years of jumping.

"You can get pain control, you can get stress relief, you can help the horse feel a lot better," Bukenhofer said. She says acupuncture works about the same in Tony as it does in people. Each point connects with an internal organ and needle stimulation releases pain-killing endorphins in the body.

These equine athletes can also get pulsed electromagnetic field therapy. Tubes draped over the horses body deliver low-level electromagnetic radiation.

"It supplies oxygen to the blood cells and it releases the toxins," explained Christine Nelson, a pulsed electromagnetic field therapist.

Another option -- massage and tip-to-tail chiropractic adjustments. Veterinarian Kara Spillman says it's about returning the horses nervous system to a natural state. "There were patients that I knew I wasn't getting to the root of the pain with traditional medicine and being about to offer this modality has meant that I've been able to help horses I wouldn't have been able to help before," Spillman said.

Tony's owner says the monthly massages and acupuncture treatments are working. Change that's getting him out of the stable and into the ring.