Acupuncture involves the insertion of needles into specific points on the body to produce a healing response. Acupuncture points have specific actions when stimulated. The technique has been used in veterinary practice in China for thousands of years to treat many ailments and as a preventive medicine. Acupuncture can be used alone or in conjunction with Western medicine. Clinical research has shown positive results in both animals and humans, and the use of acupuncture is increasing. Using functional MRI (fMRI), to examine 15 different points, the basic tenets of acupuncture have been proven. Those are that acupuncture is based upon the point selected, the method of stimulation, and the duration of stimulation. Stimulation of these points results in specific changes in the central nervous system. It was shown that acupuncture points that have pain relieving properties tend to activate specific pain-association brainstem regions. The National Institute of Health developed a consensus statement about acupuncture and its efficacy. NIH said that there was compelling evidence that acupuncture was useful in the management of osteoarthritis and musculoskeletal pain. Acupuncture will not cure every condition, but it can work very well when it is indicated.
In western medical terms, acupuncture can assist healing by stimulating nerves, increasing blood circulation, relieving muscle spasm, and causing 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 conducted to discover all of acupuncture’s effects and its proper uses in veterinary medicine.
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 them keep in top physical condition.
For animals, the insertion of acupuncture needles is virtually painless. 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.
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 become lethargic or sleepy for 24 hours. 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.
The length and frequency of the treatments depends on the condition of the patient and the method of stimulation (dry needle, electro acupuncture, aqua puncture, etc.) that is used by the veterinary acupuncturist. A simple acute problem, such as a sprain, may require only one treatment, whereas more severe or chronic ailments may need several treatments.
Acupuncture should never be administered without a proper veterinary medical diagnosis and an ongoing assessment of the patient’s condition by a licensed veterinarian. This is critical because acupuncture is capable of masking pain or other clinical signs and may delay proper veterinary medical diagnosis once treatment has begun. Elimination of pain may lead to increased activity on the part of the animal, thus delaying healing or causing the original condition to worsen.
In general, acupuncture can be effectively combined with most conventional and alternative therapies. Certified Veterinary Acupuncturists have the comprehensive training, knowledge and skill to understand the interactions between different forms of treatment and to interpret the patient’s response to therapy.
Acupuncture is indicated 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:
- Musculoskeletal problems, such as arthritis, intervertebral disk disease, or traumatic nerve injury
- Respiratory problems, such as feline asthma
- Skin problems such as lick granulomas and allergic dermatitis
- Gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea
- Selected reproductive problemsWhat is Canine Rehabilitation?
Physical therapy for canines, or canine rehabilitation, adapts human physical therapy techniques to increase function and mobility of joints and muscles in animals. Animal rehabilitation can reduce pain and enhance recovery from injury, surgery, degenerative diseases, age-related diseases, and obesity.
The focus of canine rehabilitation is on soft tissue rather than on bones and joints. Treatment goals are functional, designed to optimize movement and quality of life for the patient. Dr Wilkie is a Certified rehabilitation professional who completed many hours of coursework and hands-on training. She performs in-depth evaluations, manage treatment, and objectively measures progress. She uses specialized tests to look for tendinopathies and soft-tissue abnormalities, and precise instruments to measure joint rotation and range of motion.
Dr. Wilkie is highly skilled in manual therapies including joint mobilization, therapeutic stretches and exercise. Physioballs, therapy bands, rocker/wobble boards, Cavaletti poles and treadmills are used routinely to increase strength, coordination and flexibility. She is also trained to use physical modalities such as, laser and electrical stimulation.