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Acupuncture is performed by inserting thin, sterile, stainless steel needles into specific points on the body. Most acupuncture points are located along 14 major channels, which form a network that carries blood and energy throughout the entire body. Acupuncture produces a physiological response. It can provide pain relief, stimulate the immune and nervous systems, increase microcirculation, and decrease inflammation. Acupuncture can also help restore balance between organ systems for optimal health and overall well being.
Why use Acupuncture in Animals?
Acupuncture and Western medicine have the same goals--to eliminate disease and support the best quality of life. However, each approach is suited to specific circumstances. Western medicine is ideal for acute disease diagnostics and surgery. Acupuncture can be very effective in treating chronic conditions that Western medicine can help but not cure. Traditional Chinese medicine, including acupuncture, focuses on the underlying cause of disease, not just the symptoms manifested in each individual patient.
Conventional Western drugs act quickly but sometimes come with unwanted side effects. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy can be used to avoid or ameliorate some of those side effects. By combining Western and Eastern medical knowledge, Dr. Smith provides your pet with the most appropriate and best possible care.
Some animals show marked improvement immediately following the first treatment, but most animals typically improve after three or more treatments. Chronic or tenacious conditions may take longer.
What Conditions Are Treated with Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is mainly indicated for functional problems such as pain, paralysis, and non-infectious inflammatory conditions (such as allergies). In China, it is often used as the primary treatment, in conjunction with herbal formulas, prior to conventional medicines and surgery. In the Western world, we most often use acupuncture for chronic conditions for which conventional medicines are not working or are contraindicated, due to side effects, or when surgery is not feasible. We also use acupuncture in conjunction with modern treatments, or to aid in pain control and recovery following surgery. The following are examples of just some of the conditions acupuncture is commonly used for:
Local and Systematic Infections
Immune Mediated Disorders
Support for Animals with Cancer
How Often are Acupuncture Treatments Needed?
Treatment length and frequency vary widely depending on the condition being treated. The length is usually between 10 and 30 minutes. A simple acute problem, such as a sprain, may take only one treatment. A chronic condition may need ongoing treatment.
For chronic conditions, such as arthritis, a pet may receive 1-2 acupuncture treatments a week for 4-6 weeks. Once maximum positive response is seen, treatments may be tapered to achieve the greatest amount of symptom free time in between. Many patients can be maintained with acupuncture treatments 4-6 times a year.
Is Acupuncture Safe?
Acupuncture is one of the safest forms of medical treatment when performed by a properly trained veterinarian. Side effects are rare. Some animals, especially older pets, may worsen or appear sleepy or lethargic immediately after initial treatments. These effects are temporary and reflect physiological changes and adjustment. And they are most often followed by an improvement in the animal's condition. Placement of the needles may cause surprise or some pain, but often pets do not notice. Once the needles are in place, they are not painful. Most animals become relaxed and may even become sleepy.
What is Electroacupuncture?
Low frequency electro-stimulation of acupuncture points is commonly utilized for horses, dogs, and cats to assist with returning strength and function to areas of the body experiencing stagnation of energy. The electroacupuncture leads are attached to the acupuncture needles after they have been placed on the patient. The frequency and amplitude are set so low that they are barely felt and the treatment should never be painful.