WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE?
Acupuncture is a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine that has been practiced for nearly 4,000 years. Acupuncture is defined as the stimulation of a specific point on the body with a specific method, resulting in a therapeutic homeostatic effect. There are 361 acupuncture points in humans and 173 acupuncture points in animals.
The ancient Chinese discovered that the health of the body depends on the state of Qi, which is the life force or vital energy. There are two opposite forms of Qi: Yin and Yang. Physiologically, Qi flows throughout the body at all times, maintaining a balance of Yin & Yang. When the flow of Qi is interrupted by any pathological factor, the balance of Yin and Yang is lost, and disease may occur. Pain is interpreted as the blockage of Qi flow. Acupuncture stimulation resolves this blockage, freeing the flow of Qi and enabling the body to heal itself.
Qi flows throughout the body along energetic channels called meridians. Each meridian is also associated with a specific internal organ, which reflects the physiological and pathological conditions of that organ. The meridians connect the exterior of the body with the interior of the body.
Acupuncture points are located along these meridians, and when stimulated can relieve pain and help restore normal body function. Acupuncture points have specific locations and effects and have been well documented over the years. Modern research shows that acupuncture points are located in areas where there is a large density of free nerve endings, mast cells, small arterioles, and lymphatic vessels. The stimulation of these points induces the release of beta-endorphins, serotonin, and other neurotransmitters that produce multiple physiologic effects that activate the body's homeostatic regulatory mechanisms.
Acupuncture is not considered to be a "cure-all" but it can be effective used by itelf, or more commonly, as an adjunct to conventional Western medicine. Acupuncture is commonly used when conventional medications are not working, when conventional medications are resulting in undesirable effects, or where surgical treatment is not an option. It can be used as the only modality of treatment or can be combined with other forms of treatment, including herbal remedies, homeopathic remedies, nutrition, and spinal manipulation (animal chiropratic).
WHEN IS ACUPUNCTURE INDICATED?
- Musculo-skeletal problems: muscle soreness, back pain, disc problems, osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia, and degenerative joint disease
- Neurological disorders: seizure, laryngeal hemiplegia, facial and radial nerve paralysis
- Dermatologic problems: allergic dermatitis and lick granulomas
- Respiratory problems: COPD/heaves, asthma, and chronic cough
- Gastrointestinal disorders: diarrhea, vomiting, gastric ulcers, constipation, and impaction
- Endocrine disorders: Cushings, PPID, thyroid disease
- Urinary disorders: incontinence, cystitis. kidney disease
- Other chronic conditions: anhidrosis, uveitis, behavorial problems, infertility, depressed immune function, cancer, and geriatric weakness
- Performance enhancement
- Prevention of disease
WHAT ARE ACUPUNCTURE METHODS AND GOALS?
Acupoints may be stimulated in a variety of ways. These techniques include dry needling, moxibustion, aqua-acupuncture, and electro-acupuncture. Whatever tools are used, the goal is always the same: to restore the flow of Qi and allow homeostasis to return.
HOW SAFE IS ACUPUNCTURE?
Acupuncture is one of the safest forms of medical treatment for animals when it is administered by a properly trained veterinary acupuncturist. Because acupuncture balances the body’s own system of healing and no chemicals are administered, complications rarely, if every occur. An animal's condition may seem to deteriorate temporarily after an initial treatment – often 24-48 hours. This is an indication that some physiologic changes are occurring and this is most often followed by improvement of the animals condition.
HOW LONG DOES AN ACUPUNCTURE TREATMENT LAST?
Stimulation of an individual acupuncture point can take as little as 10 seconds or can last up to 60 minutes. It depends on the technique used and the condition treated.
HOW MANY TREATMENTS ARE NEEDED?
It depends on the nature, severity, and duration of the condition being treated. A single treatment may be enough for an acute condition. A series of 3 to 10 treatments can resolve many chronic problems. After a maximum response is achieved, acupuncture treatments are tapered to a maintenance schedule. Some degenerative conditions may need monthly treatments over time.
DOES ACUPUNCTURE HURT?
Acupuncture is most often performed with sterilized stainless needles. There is sometimes a brief moment of sensitivity as the needle penetrates the skin. Once the needles are in place, most animals relax and often fall asleep during treatment.
WHY ARE ACUPUNCTURE AND HERBAL MEDICINE USED TOGETHER?
Because clinical results can be obtained more quickly by using Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture together. The combined effects are also stronger which is especially important in the treatment of difficult cases.
WATCH ACUPUNCTURE VIDEO:
To learn a little more about acupuncture, you can check out this video, Veterinary Acupuncture Episode featuring Dr. Jenna Castner Hauck, "Animal Attractions TV" from YouTube.