There are several chronic conditions that veterinarians struggle to treat. Often we use treatments that have side effects that may not necessarily improve the animal’s quality of life. The powerful healing effects of acupuncture have been proven to aid in treatment of chronic conditions, ease pain, and increase overall quality of life.
Acupuncture works when the needles hit very tiny points on the body’s surface where nerves, blood vessels and lymphatics are located. These points stimulate blood flow which helps to heal tissues and decrease inflammation in conditions such as disc disease, and torn tendons and ligaments. These points also stimulate immunomodulatory cells which help with neoplastic conditions (cancer), allergies, and other autoimmune diseases. Acupuncture points stimulate nerves to decrease pain, release neurotransmitters that cause relaxation, and help with anxiety. There are over 1,000 acupuncture points and many techniques to stimulate these points. There is an art as well as a science to inserting needles into predetermined points throughout the entire body. Traditional Chinese Medicine states that each acupoint (or acupuncture point) communicates with the body’s organs and reflects the condition of that organ. If an acupoint is tender or shows other signs of abnormality, the corresponding organ may be affected and need treatment.
Western Medicine Perspective
Every acupuncture point contains nerves, blood vessels, and immune cells. Needling these points stimulates the nerves. This decreases pain by causing the release of beta endorphins and serotonin. The needle creates a micro-trauma that brings blood flow and immune cells to the site which facilitates the healing process.
Eastern Medicine Perspective
In every living organism, there is a flow of “Qi” (pronounced ‘Chi’), and when healthy it flows freely throughout the body. When unhealthy, Qi is blocked and can create pain and can cause disease. Qi is the energy that controls harmony in any living being. This energy is taken from the environment through processes such as nutrition and respiration, is transformed into an absorbable form by organs, then is stored in the body, and distributed throughout the systems.
Acupuncture can be useful for the following conditions:
- Musculoskeletal problems (including osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease & hip dysplasia)
- Neurological disorders
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Chronic conditions such as asthma, allergies, behavioral problems, etc.
- Cancer – in conjunction with chemotherapy or for palliative care by:
- Decreasing pain
- Increasing appetite
- Stimulating the body’s immune system