Acupuncture is among the oldest medical practices in the world. It is one of the key modes of treatment of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and is used for preventative and acute health care. According to TCM, the body is seen as a delicate balance of two opposing and inseparable forces. In order to use acupuncture in an integrative way, it is important for the practitioner to fully understand both western and eastern veterinary medicine.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture uses our life energy, Qi, that courses through the body in channels or "meridians." Proper energy and energy movement creates a state of health. If there is a block in the energy or lack of energy, there is pain, weakness or illness. Insertion of acupuncture needles at specific points along the meridians of the body stimulates energy movement and balance.
In western terms, acupuncture can stimulate nerves, increase blood circulation, relieve muscle spasm, and cause the release of hormones such as endorphins (used in pain control) and cortisol (the body’s natural anti-inflammatory).
What conditions can be treated with acupuncture?
Acupuncture is indicated for pain, inflammation, and paralysis. Some common problems treated with acupuncture include:
- Disc disease
- Feline asthma
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Skin conditions: lick granulomas, wounds, and chronic conditions where western medicine alternatives have been exhausted
- Internal Medicine conditions – kidney failure, liver failure, etc
- Neurologic diseases
Is acupuncture painful?
Side effects are extremely rare but it is possible to see worsening of symptoms for up to 48 hours after treatment, and some animals may become more sleepy or lethargic for 24 hours. These effects are most often followed by an improvement in the animal’s condition.
How long do acupuncture treatments last and how often are they given?
It depends upon the condition of the patient but they may take as little as 10 seconds or as long as 30 minutes. Acute conditions, like a simple sprain, may take only one treatment while more chronic conditions may require multiple weekly sessions.
A positive response is usually seen after 1-5 treatments. Typically treatments are done weekly for 4-8 treatments and then tapered to the longest effective duration.
What other therapies can be used in conjunction with acupuncture?
Since our veterinarians are trained in both traditional western medicine and TCM (traditional Chinese medicine – including acupuncture and herbal therapy), we aim to provide an integrated approach to our medical cases. We will utilize all forms of therapy that are warranted and desired for your pet’s specific condition.
How do I pick a practitioner?
There are two important criteria to look for in a veterinary acupuncturist:
1. Your veterinary acupuncturist should be a licensed veterinarian (in order to be able to utilize both traditional western medicine and eastern medicine to provide the best outcome for your pet).
2. Your veterinary acupuncturist should have formal training in the practice of acupuncture for animals – i.e. IVAS certification or certification from the Chi Institute.