Acupuncture can assist the body to heal itself by affecting certain physiological changes. For example, acupuncture can stimulate nerves, increase blood circulation, relieve muscle spasm, and cause the release of hormones, such as endorphins (one of the body’s pain control chemicals) and cortisol (a natural steroid).
Acupuncture may be defined as the insertion of needles into specific points on the body to produce a healing response. Each acupuncture point has specific actions when stimulated. This technique has been used in veterinary practice in China for thousands of years to treat many ailments. The Chinese also use acupuncture as preventative medicine. Acupuncture is used all around the world, either alone or in conjunction with Western medicine, to treat a wide variety of conditions in every species of animal. Acupuncture will not cure every condition, but it can work very well when it is indicated.
Acupuncture is indicated for function problems such as those that involve paralysis, noninfectious inflammation (such as allergies), and pain. For small animals, the following are some of the general conditions which may be treated with acupuncture: musculoskeletal problems (such as arthritis, intervertebral disk disease, or traumatic nerve injury), respiratory problems, such as feline asthma, skin problems such as lick granulomas and allergic dermatitis, gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, and selected reproductive problems. For large animals, acupuncture is again commonly used for functional problems. Some of the general conditions where it might be applied are the following: musculoskeletal problems such as sore backs or downer cow syndrome, neurological problems such as facial paralysis, skin problems such as allergic dermatitis, respiratory problems such as heaves and “bleeders”, gastrointestinal problems such as nonsurgical colic, and selected reproductive problems.
Acupuncture is essentially painless and is one of the safest forms of medical treatment for animals when it is administered by a properly trained veterinarian.
For small animals, the insertion of acupuncture needles is virtually painless. The larger needles necessary for large animals may cause some pain as the needle passes through the skin. In all animals, once the needles are in place, there should be no pain. Most animals become very relaxed and may even become sleepy. Nevertheless, acupuncture treatment may cause some sensation, presumed to be those such as tingles, cramps, or numbness which can occur in humans and which may be uncomfortable to some animals.
Side effects of acupuncture are rare, but they do exist. An animal’s condition may seem worse for up to 48 hours after a treatment. Other animals become lethargic or sleepy for 24 hours. These effects are an indication that some physiological changes are developing, and they are most often followed by an improvement in the animal’s condition.
The success of the treatment will vary according to the skill of the veterinarian, the condition being treated and the number and frequency of acupuncture treatments. The length and frequency of the treatments depends on the condition of the patient and the method of stimulation (dry needle, electroacupuncture, aquapuncture, etc.) that is used by the veterinary acupuncturist. A simple acute problem, such as a sprain, may require only one treatment, whereas more severe or chronic ailments may need several treatments.
If you would like to schedule an initial acupuncture appointment for your pet please contact the clinic.