Almost everyone has heard of acupuncture. Many people have actually had or have ongoing sessions with acupuncture. But how much do you really know about this ancient healing art and its use in pets?
Acupuncture is described as the stimulation of a specific point on the body with a specific method, to elicit a specific response to help put the body into balance. Balance is a process of where all the bodily functions are working in harmony and there is no, or less disease (dis-ease). This balance has been represented for thousands of years by the Yin/Yang symbol.
There are approximately 173 acupoints in animals (361 in humans). Modern studies and research have shown that acupoints are areas where there are high density of free nerve endings, immune stimulating cells, small blood vessels and fluid vessels. A great number of studies have shown that acupuncture stimulates the body’s natural pain killers (endorphins, serotonin and others). Therefore, acupuncture for pain relief is well supported. Acupuncture also can help with regulation of the GI tract, reduce inflammation, and regulate the immune system and hormones. There is also anti-fever effect and improved circulation.
The health of the body, according to ancient Chinese healers, depends on the state of Qi (chee). Qi is the vital energy or life force. Qi flows throughout the body 24 hours a day and maintains balance of the Yin and Yang. When the flow of Qi is interrupted, such as with infection, the balance of Yin and Yang is lost and disease may occur. Pain is considered a blockage of Qi. Acupuncture resolves this blockage, allowing the Qi to flow naturally and allowing the body to heal itself.
There are many different ways that the acupuncture can be performed. Some common ways are with dry needles, heating of the needles, aqu-acupuncture (using liquids), electrical acupuncture and therapy laser acupuncture. No matter the type of acupuncture used, the restoration of natural Qi flow is always the goal. Acupuncture has indications to treat muscle soreness, back pain, disc disease, arthritis, degenerative joint disease, seizures, paralysis, diarrhea, ulcers, vomiting, constipation, asthma, cough, eye diseases, behavioral disorders, Cushing’s Disease, diabetes, thyroid disease, infertility, kidney disease, old pet weakness and skin disease. Acupuncture is a great treatment option when integrated into western medical care, but also a wonderful additional therapy when western medical care has proven ineffective.
Acupuncture is a very safe medical procedure when performed by a qualified veterinarian. Sessions may last anywhere from 20-60 minutes. The number of treatments needed depends on the type of disorder, severity and duration of the disease.
Over 95% of patients are comfortable with acupuncture therapy. Some animals even fall asleep during their treatment. Sedation is not recommended as it may interfere with the acupuncture effect. Proper acupuncture therapy may cause a heavy feeling or that of heaviness and relaxation, with a contraction of local muscles. Many pets even come to look forward to their acupuncture sessions as they know they feel better when completed.
So, the point of Acupuncture is to restore the body’s natural Qi flow, to balance Yin and Yang so that the body may be in balance and allow natural, self healing to occur.