Integrated Physical Medicine

What is Integrated Physical Medicine?

“Physical medicine” is a term used to encompass cold laser therapy, acupuncture, rehabilitation, and canine/feline massage. We can use these treatments in conjunction with traditional western medicine to provide the best outcome for your pet.


What is Acupuncture?

img_acupunctureAcupuncture, 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.

Dr-Paige-doing-acupuntureRecently 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.

Dr. Paige has been a certified veterinary acupuncturist for over 10 years and Dr. Michelle became certified in the past year. 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?

acupuncture-with-a-catAt 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.

Do cats like acupuncture?

Cold Laser

What is Cold Laser Therapy?

cold-laser2Lasers emit light as energy. A “cold” laser emits light in wavelengths that do not cause the tissues to heat up as the energy is absorbed by the body’s cells. Much of the safety and effectiveness of cold laser therapy lies in its ability to trigger the body to heal itself. Penetrating into targeted tissues, laser light stimulates target cells to produce ATP, which fuels cell repair and regeneration. The laser simply put “jumpstarts” the healing process. The laser operates within a specific wavelength range that is non-thermal, so there is no risk of tissue damage or other complications. The MLS laser synchronizes two wavelengths of light, 808nm and 905nm. The 808nm wavelength provides anti-inflammatory and anti-edema effects via a continuous wave delivery. The 905nm wavelength provides analgesic effects, with some of the same effects of the 808 wavelength and is delivered using pulsed mode laser energy.

Cold laser therapy decreases pain both by blocking nerve signals and increasing endorphins and encephalins which are the body’s natural pain killers. It also decreases inflammation, accelerates tissue repair and cell growth, improves blood flow and reduces fibrous or scar tissue formation. Laser therapy can relax tight muscles or trigger points, improve nerve function and affects the immune system by stimulating immunoglobines and lymphocytes.

We have a class IV Cutting Edge MLS cold laser and have been using it for 3 ½ years with amazing success. However, all cold lasers are not created equal! We did extensive research before purchasing this laser and as a result we are able to successfully treat many conditions that inferior lasers simply cannot help. The results speak for themselves.

When can Cold Laser Therapy be used?

We routinely use it post op on all surgeries, orthopedic surgeries, wound repairs and dental cleanings. It is also very helpful for infections such as ear infections, wounds, abscesses and anal gland issues. We have also used it intraoperatively during abdominal surgeries to accelerate intestinal or bladder healing. We can use it on acute soft tissue injuries or on chronic conditions.
*Where the laser really shines is treating arthritis and back or neck pain in both dogs and cats.

cold-laser-1We are often able to decrease medications such as NSAIDs and pain medications. Patients often feel the effects as we are doing the treatment so it can even help pets who really don’t want to be at the vet or are very sensitive if touched in painful areas. If we think it will benefit your pet, cold laser therapy is included for no charge in all acupuncture appointments. We have found that our acupuncture treatments last longer when we do cold laser therapy too. It is an inexpensive and safe therapy to help your pet have a better quality of life.

What to expect during a treatment

Cold laser appointments are 10-30 minutes long. The actual treatment time with the laser is from 2-10 minutes at the most. The rest of the time is spent getting a good history and examining your pet so we don’t miss any areas that need treatment. An acute injury may only require one or two treatments. For chronic issues, especially arthritis, we recommend twice weekly appointments for 2 or 3 weeks or until we see significant improvement. During this time we will be fine tuning the treatment protocol so it is important you give us as much feed back as possible. Once we see positive results we will lengthen the interval between treatments while still maintaining what we have gained. We often see results after 2 or 3 treatments even for chronic or complicated conditions.

Physical Therapy

physical-therapy-radar-in-pool-with-GraceWe incorporate physical therapy into our acupuncture and pain management appointments. We also do physical therapy on patients undergoing orthopedic surgeries whether a fracture repair or a cruciate ligament injury. Physical therapy allows pets to return to full function faster and to remain active for longer as they age. We use a lot of different modalities including pool therapy for the smaller dogs.

Physical therapy is also very important for pets that have back or neck pain and any neurological deficits. Check out this video of Radar the first time he was able to balance on the peanut ball. Radar had an acute disc rupture in his midback and was initially paralyzed from his “waist” down. With a combination of acupuncture, cold laser, physical therapy and a good attitude, he slowly improved. Radar has since passed on but this video still makes us smile at the big spirit inside this little dog.