What is Acupuncture?
Pet acupuncture is the insertion of needles at strategic points on the body that incite a specific response when stimulated. When stimulated, these points can induce a healing response. This form of therapy has been used in China for the treatment and management of diseases and ailments in both humans and animals for thousands of years.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture needles are placed in very specific points which are based on the surrounding anatomy. These sites are rich in free nerve endings, nerve bundles, inflammatory and immune mediating cells, small arterioles, veins, and lymphatics. Additionally, the skin at these areas tend to have lower electrical resistance and higher electrical conductance compared with the surrounding skin. When stimulated, these points activate the central nervous system and causes a release of neurotransmitters that can block pain signals. At the local level, acupuncture needling induces very small tissue damage that sets up a local reaction, resulting in an increase in blood flow to the area, increase in local immune responsiveness, as well as relaxation of the muscle and tissue in the area.
What can you treat with acupuncture?
Pet acupuncture is most commonly used to treat musculoskeletal and neurologic disorders, although it can be used to treat various other conditions. Muscle soreness, back pain and intervertebral disc disease, degenerative joint disease or arthritis, seizures, nerve paralysis, diarrhea, vomiting, ileus, and constipation to name a few. It is also used as an adjunctive therapy for conditions that are not fully responding to conventional medicine.
Is Acupuncture Safe?
While there are a few contraindications, such as pregnancy, acupuncture is generally regarded to be safe with very few reported side effects. For some pets, their condition may seem to worsen after the session, while others may become sleepy or lethargic. These effects are normal, can last between 24 to 48 hours, and are often followed by improvement of their condition. Sterile, single use needles are used to prevent potential infections.
Is Acupuncture Painful?
Although every pet is different, in most instances, they tolerate acupuncture very well. Few patients show signs of pain or discomfort while the needles are being placed. Due to the neurophysiological effects of acupuncture, many animals will relax and some even fall asleep during the treatment session.
How Many Treatments are Needed?
Acupuncture treatment schedules can vary dependent on the condition, severity and duration of the disease. For acute conditions, one treatment may suffice, whereas it may take a series of several sessions to resolve chronic conditions. Additionally, for some chronic disease processes, such as arthritis, neurologic deficits, or seizures, acupuncture is often performed more frequently during the initial weeks of treatment and the sessions are slowly spaced further apart. In these cases, the frequency is ultimately determined by the pet’s clinical signs.
For many conditions, it is often recommended that owners commit to 4-6 treatments to establish whether or not the pet will have a positive response to acupuncture. Treatments usually start off more frequently and taper off over time. Maintenance therapy may be recommended thereafter and can range from monthly to biannually. Again, this is usually determined by the individual pet’s response
How Long does Each Treatment Take?
Each session can take approximately 20 to 60 minutes.