Acupuncture is the insertion of thin, sterile, stainless steel needles into specific points on the body. Stimulation of these acupoints causes biochemical and physiologic changes, helping the body to heal itself. It has been used in veterinary patients for at least 3000 years for treatment of many ailments. There are a myriad of evidence-based scientific articles supporting the use of acupuncture. We will be glad to direct you to such articles. We take an evidence based approach to our therapeutic needling.
WHAT CONDITIONS RESPOND TO ACUPUNCTURE?
Acupuncture has proven useful in managing a variety of conditions in veterinary patients. Most notably, acupuncture may be used alone or in conjunction with conventional therapies for the following conditions:
- Musculoskeletal problems such as hip dysplasia, arthritis, intervertebral disc disease (back pain), chronic injuries
- Neurologic disorders such as epilepsy, traumatic nerve injury, certain types of paralysis
- Gastrointestinal conditions such as nausea, diarrhea and constipation
- Respiratory problems such as feline asthma
- Skin problems such as lick granulomas, allergic dermatitis
HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE WORK?
A healthy state is said to be in homeostasis or balance. Illness and injury commonly cause or result from an imbalance of the body. By affecting all of the major systems of the body, acupuncture acts as a "reset switch" to promote a return to normal homeostasis. While acupuncture has local effects near the acupoints, it primarily affects the central nervous system, which in turn impacts musculoskeletal, hormonal, cardiovascular, and the autonomic nervous system for a global effect on the body. It triggers the release of many neurochemicals, including endorphins, the body's natural pain relieving hormones. Beyond pain relief, the effect acupuncture has on individual patients depends on both the condition being treated and the point selection by the practitioner; some of these effects may include increased immune function, regulation of intestinal motility, stimulation of nerves, and many others.
IS ACUPUNCTURE PAINFUL? IS IT SAFE?
For most small animal patients, the insertion of acupuncture needles is virtually painless. Most animals become relaxed once the needles are in place, and they may even become sleepy.
Since it relies on the body's own healing capacity, and no drugs are administered, acupuncture is one of the safest treatment modalities available when practiced by a competent, trained acupuncturist.
HOW LONG DO TREATMENTS LAST? HOW OFTEN ARE THEY GIVEN?
Length and frequency of treatments varies for individual cases, but they are typically 30 minutes long at weekly intervals for the first few weeks. If the patient responds favorably, it is usually after the first, second, or third treatment. Depending on the severity of the condition being treated and the degree of response, treatments are usually tapered off to every few weeks or every few months. Some acute conditions warrant more frequent treatment, even daily or twice daily for hospitalized patients. A variety of acupuncture methods exist including "dry needling" (using the needles only), electro-acupuncture (attaching electric current to the needles), moxibustion (heating an acupoint) and aquapuncture (injecting solution into an acupoint).
Dr. Abella has added another dimension of care available to you by providing acupuncture here at Aloha Animal Hospital with certification of veterinary medical acupuncture.