RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Acupuncture is typically used by people to relieve pain, headaches or stress. Now, volunteers with N.C. State’s Turtle Rescue Team are using it to treat turtles.

Tiny needles are strategically pressed into areas like their legs and arms.

Two eastern box turtles received the treatment on Friday.

Garfunkel the turtle was brought in after he was hit by a car. His therapy was meant to relieve pain and bring back his appetite. Wanda was brought after suffering injuries from a dog.

Tara Harrison, associate professor of Veterinary Medicine at N.C. State, worked on the two shelled reptiles. She said acupuncture in animals is most often used for pain relief. It can also be used for paralysis, stomach issues or colic.

Wanda received a form of laser therapy to go along with acupuncture. It helps promote blood flow and healing to certain areas.

“This is something that when I’m doing acupuncture on an animal, I’ll use this so that way I can actually stimulate more points than normal. So, instead of putting needles everywhere, I can use the laser as well,” Harrison said.

Animals can be treated with acupuncture and medication.

“Our goal is to improve the comfort without adding more drugs,” said Harrison.

She uses her knowledge of acupuncture in humans and horses to determine where each needle goes in turtles.

“I’m actually working on trying to map out more officially based on anatomy and nerve meridians, or where the nerve’s running. So, trying to get something more standardized for these animals but in the absence, I’m using their anatomy to find the points,” Harrison said.

With springtime approaching, the Turtle Rescue Team expects to treat more turtles as hatchlings start moving about. On a busy day, they can get up to 30 calls from people concerned about an injured turtle. They can admit about six hurt turtles a day.

The team is volunteer-run and works off donations. They provide care for the animals at no cost but cannot treat pet turtles.

If you find a sick or injured turtle, you can call for help at 919-397-9675 or email the team at turtle-rescue-team@ncsu.edu.