acu1.pngAcupuncture in veterinary medicine has been used to promote balance in the body's total energy system and ability to heal. In all animals there are precise locations on or near the surface of the body known as acupuncture points; these points, when stimulated, may produce changes in the body's internal organs and functions. Traditionally, insertion of a fine stainless steel, gold or sterling silver needle into the point influences the acupuncture point(s). Other methods of stimulation include the application of heat, electricity, laser or injection. Veterinary acupuncture utilizes both the ancient theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and the western observations of physiological response and correlation of effect, in the selection of acupuncture points to treat.

The ancient theories of TCM describe the body as having a network of energy channels, called meridians, which conduct flow of Qi - the body's sustaining energy force. Qi regulates the bodily functions as it flows to and through all parts of the physical body. When Qi flows in a smooth harmonious manner, health is the result. The healthy flow Qi through the meridian channels may be disrupted by any number of things, such as:

  • Chronic Injury
  • Sudden Trauma
  • Environmental Factors Such As Heat, Cold, Wind or Toxin(S)
  • Poor or Inappropriate Nutrition
  • Inadequate Exercise or Overexertion
  • Insufficient Rest
  • Genetic Weakness

Whenever Qi becomes disrupted, imbalance occurs and disease may result.

The use of acupuncture has been shown to:

  • Provide generalized oxygenation and increased blood flow to specific areas of treatment.
  • Aid production of endogenous cortisone and other anti-inflammatory secretions.
  • Release the internal production of endorphins, the body's natural painkiller.
  • Stimulate immunity by increasing white blood cell count and antibody production.

Acupuncture can be the only method of choice, or it may be combined with other treatment modalities such as chiropractic, homeopathy, herbal or nutritional support. Acupuncture may also be combined with more conventional western treatment modalities to enhance the body's response to the treatment.

There is a limit to how much acupuncture will help an animal. It may be that the disease of trauma has progressed beyond the point where acupuncture can arrest of reverse the damage, and all it can do is provide supportive care and symptomatic relief. Acupuncture cannot re-grow nerves. It is not a cure-all.

There are several conditions where veterinary acupuncture may be appropriate as the primary or adjunctive (supportive) therapy, including:

  • Gastrointestinal Disorders - Gastritis, Colitis, Diarrhea & Vomiting
  • Respiratory Problems - Sinusitis, Bronchial Asthma, Chronic Cough & Pneumonia
  • Neurological Disorders - Peripheral Nerve Damage, Epilepsy, Stroke, Deafness, Coma
  • Musculoskeletal Disorders - Chronic Degenerative Joint Disease, Tendinitis, Sprains
  • Reproductive, Endocrine & Metabolic Disorders - Ovarian Cyst, Mastitis, Hepatitis, Jaundice
  • Immunosuppressive & Allergic Dermatological Disorders - Allergic Dermatitis
  • Urinary Disorders- Incontinence
  • Emergencies - Cardiac or Respiratory Arrest

Before pursuing treatment with acupuncture, a physical examination complete with a full medical history, diagnostic laboratory tests, and radiographs (x-rays) is usually performed. There are some conditions for which a single acupuncture treatment is all that is required. In most instances, however, there are multiple acupuncture treatments spread over weeks or even months to reverse some chronic conditions. For more involved treatments with Dr. Brenda Reed, we ask that the client be willing to commit to a minimum of four acupuncture treatments in order to give a chance for the improvement to be seen. Typically, the acupuncture treatments are spread weekly, but occasionally they may be required two times weekly or every other week, depending upon the animal's condition. As the animal responds to the treatments, the length of time that the treatment remains effective is noted, and the treatment intervals may become longer, or even, no more treatments may be necessary. Chronic conditions may require treatment monthly or several times per year, once the initial response level has peaked, and maximum effect is to be maintained.

During the acupuncture treatment itself, most animals exhibit little or no pain or discomfort. Most of the patients will lie down during a treatment with their owners holding them and take a nap. A few animals, with a very high anxiety level or extreme fear reaction to being confined in a veterinary setting, require more coaxing to be still. It is only in extraordinary circumstances that we chemically restrain the animal. The treatment itself may last ten seconds to thirty minutes, the average treatment being ten minutes. However, the first appointment is an hour long to accommodate a lengthy history session and acupuncture examination. Follow-up appointments are generally for thirty minutes as they do not require the in-depth history.

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