Information provided by: Shelly Marquardt, D.V.M. with Veterinary Medical Clinic and After Hours Urgent Pet Care of South Tampa
Acupuncture is the treatment of conditions or symptoms by the insertion of very fine needles into specific points on the body, acupoints, in order to produce a response. The ancient Chinese discovered acupuncture points for both humans and animals, and these points were found to be connected with each other and various internal organs via meridians or channels.
Modern research shows that acupoints are located in the areas where there is a high density of free nerve endings, mast cells, blood vessels, and lymphatic vessels. When stimulated, each acupuncture point has specific actions causing release of beta-endorphins, serotonin, and other neurotransmitters. Combinations of points are often stimulated to take advantage of synergistic reactions between them, particularly healing and pain relief.
Any condition may potentially benefit from acupuncture. In veterinary medicine, there is evidence of the success of acupuncture for treating many disorders:
- Musculoskeletal – osteoarthritis, intervertebral disk disease, degenerative joint disease
- Neurological – seizures, laryngeal paralysis, facial and nerve paralysis
- Gastrointestinal – vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, impact impaction
- Respiratory – asthma, coughing, upper respiratory
- Dermatological – allergic dermatitis, lick granuloma
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is Qi?
A: Qi (pronounced chee) is the life force or energy that sustains the body. There are two opposite forms of Qi: Yin and Yang. Physiologically, Qi flows throughout the body, maintaining as balance of Yin and Yang. When the flow of Qi is interrupted, the balance is lost and disease can develop.
Pain is defined as a blockage of Qi. Acupuncture can resolve the blockage, allowing Qi to flow freely, and enabling the body to heal to restore balance.
Q: What is the history of acupuncture?
A: Acupuncture was developed thousands of years ago by the ancient Chinese to treat conditions in both humans and animals. In North America, the use of acupuncture outside of Asian-American communities was infrequent until the early 1970s. Since then, as more clinical research has been conducted showing positive results in the treatment of both animals and humans, its use has been increasing. There are now many veterinarians adding acupuncture into their practice.
Q: What are the methods and goals of acupuncture?
A: The goal of acupuncture is to restore the flow of Qi in order to restore balance. This can be achieved by stimulating the acupoints in a variety of ways, such as dry needling, moxibustion, aqua-acupuncture, and electro- stimulation.
Which acupuncture points are stimulated, the depth of needle insertion, the type of stimulation applied to the needles, and the duration of each treatment session depends on the patient’s tolerance, the experience and training of the practitioner, and the condition being treated.
Q: How safe is acupuncture therapy?
A: it is very safe when administered by a qualified practitioner. Very few side effects have been found in clinical cases.
Q: Does acupuncture hurt?
A: Most animals are comfortable with acupuncture treatment and some will fall asleep during the treatment. A proper treatment may cause a mild sensation of heaviness with some muscle contraction. It may be necessary to gently restrain the animal during the first treatment to minimize discomfort. As a rule, animals relax and sit or lie quietly for subsequent treatments.
Q: What species of animals can receive acupuncture?
A : Acupuncture can be used on all species of animals, and has documented efficacy on a wide range of species, including elephants, cattle, horses, dogs, cats, monkeys, and rabbits. However, it tends to be more frequently used in companion animal species such as the horse, dog, and cat.
Q: How much does a veterinary acupuncture treatment cost?
A: Cost can vary widely based on location, practitioner, species, and disease being treated. It is best to contact your nearest practitioner to discuss their fees.