What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture, a component of Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM, can be used as part of an integrative approach to many medical problems. In TCM the patient is seen as a whole organism with interconnected energy. In Western Medicine the patient is viewed in terms of its specific body systems. Both TCM and Western Medicine have benefits. Integrative medicine is a combination of TCM and Western Medicine. Basically we use the best of both!
Acupuncture involves inserting thin sterile needles into points on the body that produce positive changes locally and often throughout the body. After completing advanced training, we can palpate “points” or areas of muscle tension, heat, or pain. By inserting needles into these points, we can affect nerve impulses and the flow of blood to areas of injury. We also use “meridians” or “channels” to affect certain nerve pathways and physiologic processes in the body. Whether you talk about “chi” or energy, acupuncture is essentially a very effective way to positively modulate the nervous system. Acupuncture points can also be stimulated by heat (moxa), mild electrical stimulation (ES) or by injecting a tiny amount of Vitamin B12 liquid.
Recently there has been much peer-reviewed scientific research on the efficacy of acupuncture. Many neuro-physiologic pathways have been explored and shown to have benefit when stimulated with needles, heat, or electric stimulation. What traditional Chinese medicine refers to as Qi or “chi”, can be thought of by the western perspective as flow (flow of nerve impulses and flow of blood). We are trained in “neuroanotomic acupuncture”, which has less emphasis on the “energy” and more emphasis on the nervous system using an evidence based approach.
Both Dr. Samantha Hollingshead and Dr. Karen Nann are certified acupunturists. They are both more than happy to talk to you about whether or not acupuncture can help your pet.
If you’re seeking additional information regarding the scientific basis for acupuncture, please consult the following Western Veterinary Conference proceedings by Narda G. Robinson, DO, DVM, DABMA, FAAMA:
- Evidence-Based Applications of Veterinary Medical Acupuncture
- Acupuncture: The Scientific Perspective
- How Acupuncture Works – Without the Mumbo Jumbo
- Neuroanatomic Acupuncture for Neurologic Conditions
- Neuroanatomic Acupuncture for Pain
When can acupuncture be used?
At Pet Kare, we routinely use acupuncture to help treat a variety of conditions. Acupuncture has promise for helping any pet that has a reversible or painful condition. Acupuncture is often used for chronic conditions when conventional medicine hasn’t worked or is unsafe.
Acupuncture treatments can also be used in combination with other procedures.
Our most common applications are the following:
- Arthritic dogs/ cats
- Chronic pain management
- Back injuries/ disc disease
- Post operatively – orthopedic and soft tissue
- Post dental surgery – oral pain
- Chronic renal disease, nausea, vomiting
- Acute orthopedic injuries/fractures
- Palliative cancer discomfort
What To Expect During A Treatment
Acupuncture treatments are generally soothing. During a session, needles are inserted into specific places (acupuncture points) and are left in for 20 – 30 minutes. Most animals don’t have any outward reactions to this and many get very sleepy or relaxed. Some animals benefit from “Aquapuncture,” or the injection of a liquid – often vitamin B-12 – right at the acupuncture point.
It may take multiple treatments to see the effects of acupuncture, and anyone interested in testing it’s efficacy should commit to at least 3 – 4 sessions. Acupuncture appointments are from 30-60 minutes long depending upon the pet and the conditions being treated. Since treatments are often calming, it is normal for most patients to be sleepy for several hours after a session of acupuncture. Studies show that acupuncture works well in about 80% of patients.