Acupuncture is a form of therapy in which small needles are carefully inserted into specific areas (called acupoints) to obtain a beneficial result elsewhere in the body. Every acupoint or group of points renders different reactions. Veterinary acupuncture is a mixture of ancient Chinese and modern Western veterinary medicine. It is gaining acceptance through numerous successes in selected cases that were not responsive to the usual forms of treatment.
The exact way in which acupuncture works is not known, but several mechanisms are likely involved. Acupuncture is not appropriate for all disorders, and it has limitations. A primary use of acupuncture today is to reduce pain.
The International Veterinarians Acupuncture Society educates and certifies licensed veterinarians in the art of acupuncture. Veterinarians certified in acupuncture know how and when to use acupuncture but also when not to use it.
Important Points in Treatment
- To determine if acupuncture is appropriate for your pet, your pet’s condition should be thoroughly evaluated. Blood tests, radiographs (x-rays), or other laboratory tests are often required to determine if acupuncture is the best form of treatment.
- Chronic pain relief requires a series of acupuncture treatments. Your pet may experience increased discomfort after the first treatment, but relief should become evident during the following weeks.
- Approximately 75% of animals treated with acupuncture show significant improvement within or after the first series of treatments. Periodic treatments (usually every few months) are generally required after the first series of treatments to keep your pet comfortable.
- Acupuncture does not necessarily cure a given disease. For instance, acupuncture does not cure arthritis but rather diminishes the pain of arthritis.
Notify the Doctor if Any of the Following Occur
- Your pet’s condition appears to worsen or other abnormal signs appear.
- You are unable to administer medication, if prescribed.
- Signs of discomfort return.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is defined as the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to achieve a desired healing effect. This technique has been used in humans and animals for over 3000 years in China to treat many disease processes. It has been used all over the world, either as a single therapy or in conjunction with Western medicine and when indicated, it can offer benefit with no significant effects.
When is acupuncture indicated?
Acupuncture can be used widely to treat a variety of clinical conditions in animals. Most commonly, acupuncture is effective for pain management, osteoarthritis, and geriatric medicine.
- Orthopedic injuries (Cruciate Ligament ruptures)
- Degenerative joint diseases
- Dysplasias (Hip, elbow, shoulder)
- Post-operative rehabilitation
- Intervertebral Disc Disease
- Paralysis/ weakness
- Nerve injuries
- Pain control
- Appetite stimulant
- Overall comfort
- Skin problems (allergies, lick granulomas)
- Gastrointestinal problems (vomiting, diarrhea)
- Respiratory problems (asthma)
- Behavioral disorders
- Renal, liver, heart disease
- Endocrine disorders (Diabetes, Cushings)
Is acupuncture painful?
Sometimes inserting the needles may cause some initial discomfort but for the majority of pets, it is painless. Many pets relax during the treatment and often fall asleep.
Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture is one of the safest forms of medical treatment for animals when performed by a properly trained certified veterinarian. Since acupuncture balances the body’s own system of healing and no drugs or chemicals are utilized, complications rarely occur. A pet’s condition can worsen for the first 48 hours after a treatment but these effects are an indication that some physiological changes are developing, and they are most often followed by an improvement
How many acupuncture treatments are needed? How long do they last?
The initial acupuncture consultation requires an hour in order to obtain a full medical history, complete a traditional chinese medical physical examination, and initiate the first treatment. The length and frequency of treatments depend on the condition of the patient and the method of stimulation. On average, each treatment lasts 20-30 minutes. Most pets will require a minimum of 4 weekly sessions in order to achieve positive results before tapering as determined by your acupuncturist.
How do I choose an acupuncturist?
The two most important criteria you should look for in a veterinary acupuncturist:
- Licensed veterinarian (DVM)
- Formal training and preferable certified in veterinary acupuncture (CVA)
The following websites can help you find a local veterinary acupuncturist:
Additional therapies to acupuncture
There are five branches of traditional chinese medicine
- Herbal medicine
- Tui Na: chiropractic / medical manipulation applied to the acupuncture points and channels
- Food therapy