Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine (single-use, disposable) needles into recognised sites or sensitive acupuncture points on the body which are associated with the area of the body or the condition being treated. These points are selected after a very thorough examination of the patient, particularly of the musculoskeletal system.
Acupuncturists are described as either Traditional or Western in their approach. Traditional acupuncturists believe that acupuncture works by improving the flow of energy or QI (Chi) around the body. Western acupuncturists use the same points and similar techniques, but have a different explanation of how acupuncture works. Western acupuncturists explain the effects using a western understanding of the nervous system. They believe the needles trick the body into sending natural painkillers to the site and trigger various healing mechanisms. This is appealing to owners who want to treat their animals in a holistic or natural way, but acupuncture can be safely combined with most conventional medicines and should be seen as a complementary therapy rather than alternative.
What conditions can be treated ?
Potentially most conditions could benefit from acupuncture but the highest success rate is definitely with muscoskeletal conditions (disorders or injuries of the bones, joints, tendons, muscles and ligaments). Any condition where muscles are in spasm, perhaps as a secondary consequence to unusual postures or gaits, will respond well. Acupuncture can help dogs with intervertebral disc prolapse, cruciate ligament rupture, to help surgical recovery or to assist pain relief in those managed without surgeryâ€¦many elderly cats have very sore lower backs which tend to go unnoticed, but which if diagnosed can be very effectively and safely managed with acupuncture. Lame horses will often have secondary tense muscles in addition to the original cause of lameness and can be made much more comfortable . Any horse where a ripple (known as a trigger point) can be seen in the back muscles when saddling, grooming or massaging, probably has some discomfort that would be improved by acupuncture.
Acupuncture can stimulate and accelerate wound healing, can moderate the immune system in allergies and help some skin conditions. It can also be helpful in some cases of incontinence, constipation, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Acupuncture causes the release of natural painkillers such as endorphins, which promote a feeling of well-being and offer benefits beyond those offered by anti-inflammatory drugs alone. These substances released by acupuncture can boost the immune system and relieve anxiety (some behavioural problems can be helped) and so the list of conditions where acupuncture could be useful is extensive.
Before treating any patient, a history is taken from their regular vet. This usually just requires a phone call to be made and ensures that the regular vet is kept informed of treatment.