What is Medical Acupuncture?
Medical acupuncture, also known as neuroanatomical acupuncture, involves inserting slim, sterile needles into specific points on the body (often areas associated with nerve bundles, blood vessels, muscle bellies or muscle/tendon junctions). The acupuncture needle stimulates the nerves in the area and this starts a cascade of impulses leading to and from the brain. In the spinal cord and brain, there is well established evidence that acupuncture causes the release of opioid peptides (endorphins), serotonin, other neurotransmitters and hormones. These are the body’s natural pain killers and healing agents. Blood vessels around the needle dilate, increasing blood flow to the area. Increased blood flow delivers oxygen and nutrients to the area and removes toxins. The spinal chord sends a reflex signal, relaxing the tissues all around the needle.
Medical Acupuncture developed from Traditional Chinese Medicine that has been used for over 2000 years. However, Medical Acupuncture is scientifically based and extensively studied to show that it works by specifically interacting with the nervous system and brain.
How Does it Work?
Acupuncture treats the body naturally via neuromodulation. Neuromodulation is the stimulation and normalization of the nervous system, which leads to improved comfort and function of specific muscles, organs, nerves and the immune system. Acupuncture helps animals feel better through reduced pain, improved function of the body, decreased inflammation and improved healing.
Medical Acupuncture can help treat many common conditions including:
- Pain: muscle tension, muscle spasm, neck and back pain, neuropathic pain, soft tissue injuries, post-surgical pain, bony pain, cancer pain
- Musculoskeletal Problems: Hip dysplasia and arthritis, cranial cruciate ligament injuries, other knee injuries or arthritis, elbow dysplasia and arthritis, shoulder pain, neck and back pain, weakness and lameness
- Neurological Disease: Intervertebral disk disease, spinal chord injury, facial nerve paralysis, other neuropathies, seizures
- Gastrointestinal Disorders: Vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, fecal incontinence, nausea and decreased appetite
- Kidney disease
- Urinary Issues: Urinary incontinence, cystitis in cats
- Eye problems: Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS or dry eye), glaucoma
- Respiratory Disorders: Laryngeal paralysis, Asthma, Rhinitis
- Immune System Disorders: Autoimmune conditions, boosting the body’s immune system
- Skin Problems: Wounds, acral lick granulomas
How is it Tolerated in Pets?
Acupuncture is remarkably well tolerated by animals! They often become very relaxed or even sleepy during their treatments. You may find that once your pet learns they are coming in for acupuncture, they are actually excited to come into the clinic!
Is it Safe?
Acupuncture is one of the safest therapies utilized if practiced by a competent, professionally trained veterinary acupuncturist. Side effects are rare. Acupuncture balances the body’s own systems of function and healing, and no chemicals are administered, therefore complications rarely develop.
A typical treatment protocol would involve once weekly treatments for 3 weeks, then once every 4-6 weeks as needed to maintain an older pet’s comfort or disease condition. Young animals with healing injuries often resolve after the initial 3 treatments. Acupuncture is not meant to replace our regular western medicine diagnostics and treatments that you are already accustomed to receiving here at Gamble Pet Clinic. It is an integrative therapy that can be used in addition to western medicine or can be used when surgery is not an option or your pet is unable to tolerate, or is not responding to, typical medications that we would use for their medical condition.
If you have additional questions about medical based acupuncture for animals, or if you are wondering if your pet may benefit, please give us a call.
We partner with Dr. Joey Sneva of Full Moon Integrative Veterinary Care for acupuncture sessions.