Veterinary Acupuncture – Frequently Asked Questions
What conditions respond to acupuncture?
Acupuncture bridges a gap between medicine and surgery. In the western world it is used primarily when medications are not working or are contraindicated due to possible side effects, or when surgery is not feasible. In China, it is often used as the primary treatment prior to conventional medicines and surgery. In small animals acupuncture is most commonly used for:
1. Musculoskeletal problems:
- Hip dysplasia
- Intervertebral disc disease
- Long term injuries
2. Skin problems:
- Lick granulomas
- Sensory neurodermatitis
3. Nervous disorders:
- Traumatic nerve injury
- Certain types of paralysis
4. Respiratory problems:
- Feline asthma
Numerous other conditions have responded to acupuncture as well. In horses, acupuncture is most commonly used for:
1. Musculoskeletal problems:
- Back problems
- Navicular disease
- Numerous other lamenesses
2. Nervous disorders – traumatic nerve injury
3. Analgesia – for surgery
4. Respiratory problems – heaves? bleeders?
How does it work?
Acupuncture is now known to affect all major physiological systems. It works primarily through the central nervous system affecting the musculo- skeletal, hormonal and cardiovascular systems. It does more than relieve pain. How it works depends on what condition one is treating and which points are utilized. Acupuncture increases circulation, causes a release of many neuro-transmitters and neurohormones, some of which are endorphins, the bodies natural pain-killing hormones, relieves muscle spasms, stimulates nerves, stimulates the bodies defense systems, as well as numerous other beneficial effects.
It is interesting to note that according to Chinese philosophy, disease is an imbalance of energy in the body. Acupuncture therapy is based on balancing the energy correcting the flow of energy, and thereby healing the animal.
Is it painful? How will my animal react?
Acupuncture is often performed with sterilized thin stainless steel needles. There is occasionally a brief moment of sensitivity as the needle penetrates the skin in certain sensitive areas. Once the needles are in place, most animals relax, often falling asleep during treatment.
Is it safe?
Acupuncture is one of the safest therapies utilized if practiced by a competent acupuncturist. Side effects are rare. Occasionally an animal’s condition may deteriorate temporarily before improving. Because acupuncture balances the body’s own system of healing and no chemicals are administered, complications rarely, if ever, develop.
How often and for how long does one treat?
Treatments may last from 10 seconds to 30 minutes depending upon the condition treated and the method employed. There are many ways of stimulating acupuncture points including needles, electroacupuncture, aquapuncture, (injecting a solution into the point) moxibustion (heating the point) as well as laser acupuncture. Patients are often treated 1-3 times a week for 4-6 weeks. A positive response is often noticed within the first 4-6 treatments, sometimes earlier, depending upon the condition treated.