A Brief History
Veterinary acupuncture is based on the ancient Chinese art of acupuncture for humans which was developed up to 4,000 years ago in China. It forms part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which treats the body as a whole rather than just treating the affected parts or symptoms.
Disease is considered to be the result of abnormal, or disordered, energy flow in the body. The Chinese charted the normal flow of energy in the body several thousand years ago as the Meridians or Channels. There are 12 major Meridians which correlate to the Chinese classification of Organs, and 8 extra Meridians, which channel the energy through the body.
According to the Ancient Chinese, health depends on the regular rhythmic flow of energy and on the balance between Yin and Yang, the ‘eternal opposites’. Disease is therefore a state of imbalance or blockage in the normal energy flows of the body.
The mechanism involved in acupuncture is obscure to Western minds. Every living animal is thought to be born with life energy (Qi or chi). This energy is used up by the body with everyday tasks and is replenished by eating and breathing. Imbalance in the flow of Qi through the Meridians can be caused by internal or external factors and results in disease or illness.
Acupuncture can be practiced from the TCM, or Eastern, way, or from the more modern Western method, which concentrates on ‘trigger points’ in the body.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Eastern explanation:acupuncture attempts to rebalance the flow of energy through the body. This is achieved by inserting needles into certain points on the body’s surface. Sometimes these points may be far from the actual area of the illness. By inserting the needles into certain predetermined points on the Meridians, the energy channels, which have shut down due to disease, are encouraged to reopen. In this way, acupuncture stimulates the body’s own healing powers and enables it to maintain the equilibrium of its internal environment.
Western explanation:needles are placed into muscles which stimulates certain nerve fibres, sending a message up to a part of the brain called the periaqueductal grey (PAG), from which the neurotransmitters which are involved in the perception of pain are released: by blocking the pathway, these neurotransmitters are not released and therefore the pain pathway is interrupted.
What Can Acupuncture Be Used For?
Modern research has shown that acupuncture can affect most of the body systems. The success depends on the body’s stimulated ability to heal, and therefore whether or not mechanisms exist within the body which, if properly stimulated, can resolve the problem.
There are many spectacular successes, some disappointments and some cases where only temporary relief is achieved.
Acupuncture is especially useful in the following conditions:
- Back pain
- Chronic catarrh
- Chronic diarrhoea
- Spinal disc problems
- Hip dysplasia
- Injuries involving ligaments, tendons and muscles
- Some skin conditions
- Trapped nerves
It can also help any chronic pain which is not being controlled adequately by conventional treatments or when side effects are a problem.
Acupuncture treatment involves the insertion of a varying number of needles which are left in place for varying periods of between 5 and 45 minutes.
The average number of treatments is about four and if improvement is likely to follow, it will normally be apparent by then. Some problems may need more treatments before showing signs of improvement, but generally if there is no improvement at all after four treatments, it is unlikely that acupuncture will have an effect. Approximately 5% of cases will not respond to acupuncture.
Treatments are usually once a week to begin with, then at longer intervals, according to progress. Acute conditions may need more frequent treatments and chronic conditions may require booster treatments at varying intervals.
Will My Animal Need To Be Sedated For Treatment?
No. Most patients will accept needles fairly well. Most animals relax and some even fall asleep during the treatment. You will be asked to stay with your pet for the duration of each treatment.
Is There Any Risk?
There is very little risk from acupuncture treatment when performed by a competent acupuncturist. In some strong reactors temporary aggravation is quickly followed by substantial relief.
Acupuncture has the advantage that undesirable side effects of some drug therapies can be avoided.
PLEASE NOTE THAT DUE TO THE LENGTH OF TIME INVOLVED IN AN ACUPUNCTURE CONSULTATION, PROMPT ARRIVAL IS APPRECIATED, AND ANY FAILED APPOINTMENTS WILL INCUR A FEE OF £30.