What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture therapy is a branch of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM). Although this approach is relatively new in the Americas, it has been used with good success in the Eastern world for thousands of years. Doctors trained in TCVM are trained to notice patterns of disharmony in the body versus identifying separate problems. This form of medicine has similar goals as Western techniques: to promote wellness and treat disease. It is often referred to as integrative, because it can be combined with conventional medicine techniques. Often practitioners find that bridging the gap between both schools of thought can have better results than using either form alone.
What conditions are appropriate for acupuncture?
Acupuncture can be used to treat many diseases including:
- Neurologic diseases: Seizures, Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), laryngeal hemiplegia.
- Musculoskeletal disorders: Arthritis, muscle pain, ligament tears, degenerative joint disease.
- Gastrointestinal diseases and symptoms: Diarrhea, constipation, vomiting.
- Respiratory diseases: Asthma, bronchitis, collapsing trachea
- Eye diseases, skin diseases, oral pain
- Metabolic and immune-mediated diseases
- Chronic liver, kidney, and heart disorders
- Behavioral changes: Anxiety, irritability
- Post-surgical/rehabilitation to support strength and mobility
- Palliative care, end of life care, geriatric weakness and overall wellness.
In most cases, acupuncture can be used in conjunction with conventional medicine in treating acute conditions to bring the body back into balance quicker.
Acupuncture is used with caution in patients who are pregnant. It is not recommended to be used at sites of open wounds, skin tumors, or with fractures.
What happens at an acupuncture session?
During the your appointment, the doctor will review all aspects of your pet’s medical history and personality to formulate an individualized treatment plan and discuss your goals. A full physical exam will be done to localize any sources of pain or disharmony in the body. If you prefer, acupuncture can begin at the first visit.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin sterile needles at specific points along the body which correspond to different organs. They may be kept in for a period of time (dry needling), have fluid injected at the points (aquapuncture), or have electrical stimulation at the points, depending on the condition treated.
How long does the treatment take?
Once the needles are placed, they may be remain there for up to 15 minutes. We observe your pet and if they seem intolerant or uncomfortable, the offending needle would be removed.
When can we expect results?
Sometimes results are seen immediately, and some patients may take multiple treatments. Generally, 3-5 treatments performed 1-2 weeks apart may be needed for chronic conditions to achieve a significant improvement.
Does acupuncture hurt?
Acupuncture needles are very small and are not painful to the pet. The sessions are generally well tolerated by pets, including cats! Most pets become relaxed during the sessions, and some fall asleep. Patients are free to resume their normal activities after acupuncture. If restrictions for the pet’s activities are in place to prevent further injury, such as those after a surgical procedure, please discuss with your veterinarian before you change your pet’s activity level.
What are the effects of acupuncture?
Acupuncture needles stimulate points on the body where increased number of blood vessels, nerve endings, and lymph endings are located. This can enhance healing by improving the blood flow to damaged tissues. This can also decrease pain by improving the flow of energy through the body. Acupuncture also causes an endorphin release, activating “feel good” chemicals in the body to decrease pain levels.
Is there any scientific research that supports acupuncture?
The US National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine (www.pubmed.gov) has thousands of research papers regarding acupuncture and over 400 animal-specific articles. Acupuncture is recommended by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) as part of a multimodal approach to pain management.
Who can perform acupuncture?
Acupuncture must be performed by a licensed veterinarian. A veterinarian certified in acupuncture is recommended.
How do I know if my veterinarian is certified?
You can visit https://www.tcvm.net/ to find a veterinary acupuncturist.
Will I be present with my pet during the acupuncture sessions?
At this time, we are not permitting clients in the hospital due to COVID-19, but in some circumstances, we may be able to accommodate your involvement via video chat.
Are there any possible adverse effects my pet could experience from acupuncture?
Your pet may bleed or bruise at the site if a small capillary in the skin is punctured. It is possible your pet's condition may not improve with acupuncture or that your pet may be resistant to needling and difficult to treat. At each visit your pet's response will be evaluated to determine if additional sessions are warranted.
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