What is Medical Acupuncture?
Animal caregivers have used acupuncture in almost every wild, domestic, and exotic species for over 3,000 years. More recently, veterinary practitioners have begun to utilize this technique as a sole treatment or in combination with Medical acupuncture is a therapeutic method that involves the insertion of fine, sterile needles to produce a healing response for numerous aliments. Modern medical practitioners developed medical acupuncture as an adaptation of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Instead of relying on inexact metaphors (such as meridians and Qi flow) to describe the body’s responses to treatment, we employ current knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathology, all in keeping with evidence-based medicine. Double blind clinical trials have established that acupuncture does improve clinical outcome in the treatment of many conditions in both animals and people, but we do not have a full understanding of the neurologic or biochemical basis of how acupuncture works. Researches continue to study the effectiveness of acupuncture and we are confident as new study results become available our understanding of how and why acupuncture works will become clear. Although not every condition responds to acupuncture many do. It provides a safe and effective alternative and/or additive treatment modality that will keep your pet more comfortable.
What are Some Specific Benefits?
Research on acupuncture is continually building and strengthening in the scientific and evidence-informed basis of medical acupuncture. In addition to its well-known effects on acute and chronic pain, medical acupuncture addresses a wide range of medical issues, including:
• Neurological problems such as peripheral neuropathy, sciatica, spinal cord injury, disc disease and nerve-based pain problems
• Musculoskeletal conditions including knee pain, osteoarthritis, tendinitis, back pain, neck pain, trauma (surgery, car accidents, animal fights, and falling)
• Metabolic disorders (kidney/liver failure, pancreatitis, feline hyperthyroidism, Cushing’s disease, Addison’s disease, hypothyroidism, and diabetes mellitus, etc.)
• Respiratory illness such as sinusitis and recurrent infections
• Behavioral modification, athletic performance
• Skin problems, digestive ailments including inflammation and motility problems, reproductive issues
• Immune-mediated conditions
• And many, many more…
How does it work?
The main therapeutic effect of needling begin with activation of nerve fibers near an acupuncture point. These stimuli then bring about changes that help to balance nerve signaling and neurotransmitter activity from the “periphery” (i.e. the acupuncture point) to the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) and the autonomic nervous system centers (that govern processes like glandular activity, immune status, digestion, mood, and more). Acupuncture also releases tension from the muscles and enveloping fibrous network called “fascia”. The long-lasting effects of acupuncture include increasing blood circulation, improving flow of inflammatory cells, relieving muscle spasms, activating the immune system, and causing the release of hormones, such as endorphins (one of the body’s pain control chemicals).
How will my pet respond to acupuncture?
The length and frequency of treatments depends on the problem and condition of your pet. Stimulation of an individual acupuncture point may be for as little as 10 seconds or as long as 20 minutes. Generally, acute problems require less time and frequency of treatment in chronic cases. For example, an acute sprain may require only one treatment, whereas more severe or chronic ailments may require multiple treatments. A positive response is generally seen after the first to third treatment in chronic cases. Once optimum response is achieved, treatments are tapered off so the greatest amount of symptom-free time elapses between them.
We recommend a commitment of at least 3 sessions before deciding the effectiveness of acupuncture. Many conditions will respond to the first treatment, but especially chronic conditions can take longer. These conditions often take many months to develop, so it is unrealistic to expect that they will respond to one treatment. As we continue treatments we expect an additive effect, meaning that each treatment builds on the previous as you pet improves.
What side effects might there be?
Uncommonly, an acupuncture patient could experience a temporary worsening of the condition. Usually, however, the most side effects are mild and even pleasant- a sense of relaxation, an improvement in sleep, or improvement in digestive tract transit. If something concerns you, contact the practice right away.