More to the Point, to the point healing
Veterinary acupuncture and chiropractic services.
Acupuncture and chiropractic services for animals you ask?
Q: What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture may be defined as the insertion of needles into specific points on the body to cause a desired healing effect. This technique has been used in veterinary practice in China for at least 3000 years to treat many ailments but is believed to have originated in India 7000 years ago. The Chinese also use acupuncture as preventive medicine against such problems as founder and colic in horses. Acupuncture is used all over the world, either by itself or in conjunction with Western medicine, to treat a wide variety of maladies in every species of domestic and exotic animals. Modern veterinary acupuncturists use solid needles, hypodermic needles, bleeding needles, electricity, heat, massage and low power lasers to stimulate acupuncture points. Each acupuncture point has specific actions when stimulated. Combinations of points are often stimulated to take advantage of synergistic reactions between them. Which acupuncture points are stimulated, the depth of needle insertion, the type of stimulation applied to the needles, and the duration of each treatment session depends on the patient's tolerance, the experience and training of the practitioner, and the condition being treated. Acupuncture is not a cure-all, but can work very well when it is indicated.
Q: For which conditions is acupuncture indicated?
Acupuncture is indicated mainly for functional problems such as those that involve paralysis, noninfectious inflammation (such as allergies), and pain. For small animals, the following are some of the general conditions which may be treated with acupuncture:
o Musculoskeletal problems, such as arthritis or vertebral disc pathology
o Nervous system problems
o Skin problems, such as lick granuloma
o Respiratory problems, such as feline asthma
o Gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea
o Selected reproductive problems
For large animals, acupuncture is again commonly used for functional problems. Some of the general conditions where it might be applied are the following:
o Musculoskeletal problems, such as sore backs or downer cow syndrome
o Nervous system problems, such as facial nerve paralysis
o Skin problems, such as allergic dermatitis
o Respiratory problems, such as heaves and "Bleeders"
o Gastrointestinal problems, such as nonsurgical colic
o Selected reproductive disorders
In addition, regular acupuncture treatment can treat minor sports injuries as they occur and help to keep muscles and tendons resistant to injury. World-class professional and amateur athletes often use acupuncture as a routine part of their training. If your animals are involved in any athletic endeavor, such as racing, jumping, or showing, acupuncture can help keep them in top physical condition.
Q: How does acupuncture work?
According to ancient Chinese medical philosophy, disease is the result of an imbalance of energy in the body. Acupuncture is believed to balance this energy and, thereby, assist the body to heal disease. In Western terms, acupuncture can assist the body to heal itself by affecting certain physiological changes. For example, acupuncture can stimulate nerves, increase blood circulation, relieve muscle spasm, and cause the release of hormones, such as endorphins (one of the body's pain control chemicals) and cortisol (a natural steroid). Although many of acupuncture's physiological effects have been studied, many more are still unknown. Further research must be to discover all of acupuncture's effects and its proper uses in veterinary medicine.
Q: Is acupuncture painful?
For small animals, the insertion of acupuncture needles is virtually painless. The larger needles necessary for large animals may cause some pain as the needle passes through the skin. In all animals, once the needles are in place, there should be no pain. Most animals become very relaxed and may even become sleepy. Nevertheless, acupuncture treatment may cause some sensation, presumed to be those such as tingles, cramps, or numbness which can occur in humans and which may be uncomfortable to some animals.
Q: Is acupuncture safe for animals?
Acupuncture is one of the safest forms of medical treatment for animals when it is administered by a properly trained veterinarian. Side effects of acupuncture are rare, but they do exist. An animal's condition may seem worse for up to 48 hours after a treatment. Other animals may become sleepy or lethargic for 24 hours after acupuncture. These effects are an indication that some physiological changes are developing, and they are most often followed by an improvement in the animal's condition.
Q: What should I expect in the first appointment?
The initial consultation involves an extensive review of your pet's past and current medical history and a review of your pet's routine daily behavior and body functions. A physical exam will be done involving both Modern Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine approaches. Needle placement may or may not be done on the first appointment. Expect the appointment to last a minimum of 90 minutes. If the condition is complicated, the appointment may take two hours.
Q: How often and for how long does one treat?
The first initial consultation with physical exam will usually run 90 minutes to two hours. Subsequent treatment sessions generally last around 60 minutes, depending on the condition being treated, the method employed and the cooperation of the pet. Actual needle placement is 20 to 30 minutes. Ways of stimulating acupuncture points include the needles alone, electro acupuncture (adding electrical current to the points), aquapuncture (injecting a solution into the point), moxibustion (heating the point), as well as laser acupuncture. Patients are often treated 3 to 4 times in the first month. After positive response to initial weekly treatments, patients usually are treated once every two weeks for two to three sessions. The time between sessions are gradually lengthened based on the response to treatments. Maintenance treatments are then determined on a patient basis, anywhere from once a month to every two to three months. In some cases, treatments are suspended until reappearance of symptoms.
Q: How long do acupuncture treatments last and how often are they given?
The length and frequency of acupuncture treatments depends on the condition of the patient and the method of stimulation that is used by the veterinary acupuncturist. Stimulation of an individual acupuncture point may take as little as 10 seconds or as much as 30 minutes. A simple acute problem, such as a sprain, may require only one treatment, whereas more severe or chronic ailments may need several or several dozen treatments. When multiple treatments are necessary, they usually begin intensively and are tapered to maximum efficiency. Patients often start with 1-3 treatments per week for 4-6 weeks. A positive response is usually seen after the first to third treatments. Once a maximum positive response is achieved (usually after 4-8 treatments), treatments are tapered off so that the greatest amount of symptom free time elapses between them. Many animals with chronic conditions can taper off to 2-4 treatments per year. Animals undergoing athletic training can benefit from acupuncture as often as twice a week to once a month. The frequency depends on the intensity of the training and the condition of the athlete.
Q: Who practices veterinary acupuncture and do I need a referral?
Because of the differences in anatomy, and the small potential for harm if the treatments are done incorrectly, only a properly trained veterinarian should perform acupuncture on animals. The American Veterinary Medical Association and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association both consider the practice of acupuncture to be the practice of veterinary medicine, and as such, should only be performed by a licensed veterinarian. As veterinary acupuncture becomes more accepted, there are an increasing number of veterinarians in private practice who possess the necessary training and experience. In addition, there are veterinary acupuncturists at some of the veterinary colleges and teaching hospitals. In many cases, referral is not necessary.
Q: Is acupuncture proven?
"Alternatives" are not well supported by scientific research; but, this does not negate the fact that many generations in China, India, and our own native American Indians have used these techniques with success. There are many that do not work, but like Western Medicine, there are many western medical therapies that do not work with every patient. In the future, Eastern and Western traditions will only continue to become more and more integrated because they are complementary to each other. They work complementary to each other, not in competition. This blending will lead to longer, healthier lives for both companion pets and their owners. After all, our job is not only to treat you pet when he or she isn't feeling well, but also to help you learn how to keep your best friend happy and healthy.
Veterinary Acupuncture: Ancient Art to Modern Medicine, Allen M. Schoen, 2001 Acupuncture: A Scientific Appraisal, Ernst and White, 2000 Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, Xie and Preast, 2002 Veterinary Acupuncture, Behavior & Alternative Therapies, John G. Manning, DVM., MS
LPEC La Paloma Veterinary Equine Clinic