TULSA, Oklahoma - We know acupuncture is a centuries-old treatment for lots of things, primarily pain. In the hands of trained professionals, there is relief at the end of those little needles.

"This is Sarge, he's a 15-year-old gelding," said Dr. Elena Shirley, DVM.

Veterinarian Elena Shirley is introducing me and summer intern Marti Going to her patient before his treatment. Dr. Shirley believes in acupuncture as a treatment.

"It's a tool in the tool kit," she said. "It doesn't replace all of my education. I keep the whole tool box."

Not useful in all cases, but it can replace drugs which might have other unwanted side affects. So let's get to it - unless you are treating Mr. Ed, how do you know where it hurts?

Dr. Shirley begins scanning, searching for the kind of reaction that would indicate trouble.

"OK, when I get some pain, as you can see, ow and ow, sorry babe," she tells her patient.

That's where the needles go.

She told me show horses and barrel racing horses are subject to injuries like any other athlete. Traditional pain killers might not be appropriate.

There can be relief at the end of a tiny needle. Sometimes she attaches small electrodes to the needle for additional stimulation.

Acupuncture has been used successfully on people for centuries, now increasingly on animals too. Of course, kissing the horse - that always works, too.

Dr. Shirley uses acupuncture on smaller animals at Hunters Glen Veterinary Hospital located at 9150 South Braden and she uses it on horses through Veterinary Acupuncture Services of Tulsa at Legacy Equine in Glenpool.