What is Acupuncture and how does it work?
Acupuncture is the insertion of very thin needles into exterior points on the body to relieve pain, provide surgical analgesia, or for other therapeutic purposes.
Acupuncture has been used by the Chinese for over 3,000 years to help treat pain, various diseases, and even for surgical anesthesia.
How does acupuncture work?
We don’t completely understand how acupuncture works, but we do know about acupoints and neuroanatomy. There are numerous scientific studies evaluating acupuncture points. However, it is very difficult to perform actual controlled studies on acupuncture since treatment is tailored to each patient. Much anecdotal evidence exists. IVDD studies in dogs.
Acupoints have been scientifically demonstrated to have decreased electrical resistance, increased electrical conductivity, and a high density of free nerve endings, arterioles, lymphatic vessels and mast cells.
According to Chinese theory, stimulation of certain points helps to correct imbalances in the life force energy known as Qi.
Stimulation of points actually results in the release of various cytokines (cellular communication substances) some that control pain, some that decrease inflammation, and some that increase blood flow to help remove toxic substances produced during injury or inflammation.
What conditions can acupuncture help treat?
In veterinary medicine acupuncture has been documented to help with IVDD, arthritis pain, post-operative pain and inflammation. It can also help to control immune-mediated diseases and certain other conditions.
What happens during a treatment?
At the initial evaluation and treatment, the veterinary acupuncturist will examine, palpate, and gather information about the patient’s lifestyle to determine their imbalance(s)
Once the patient’s imbalance(s) and/or sensitive points are determined, an acupuncture “prescription” is formulated. This will usually include insertion of 10-20 very thin needles at various acupoints.
The needles are left in place for anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes (usually 10-20 min.) Many times a small electrical impulse is run between two acupoints to obtain stronger stimulation and endorphin release. The animals do not seem to mind this at all. Many even relax and may fall asleep.
How many treatments will my pet need?
This will depend on your pet’s condition(s). Many geriatric dogs or those with severe arthritis require some sort of ongoing treatment starting with once weekly for 4-6 weeks, then tapering to once every 2-6 weeks. Others may do well with weekly treatments for 4-6 weeks then only require “tune-ups” every few months. Still others may only require 4-6 treatments in total. This may be the case for acute injury.
What other treatments can acupuncture be used with?
Acupuncture can be used as a complement to herbal medicine, laser therapy, rehabilitation, and chiropractic. It works especially well with rehabilitation therapy and chiropractic where appropriate.