Acupuncture is a treatment derived from ancient Chinese medicine. Fine needles are inserted at specific sites in the body to alleviate pain, improve recovery rates and increase resistance to disease. It has been practiced by Eastern cultures for thousands of years and can be used to treat a wide variety of illnesses. Acupuncture is continuing to gain recognition as a useful adjunct to modern medicine in animals as well as humans and, under UK law, it can only be administered to animals by qualified veterinary surgeons. The ABVA has been providing high quality Continued Professional Development for veterinary surgeons since the 1990s. It is the only UK based organisation to provide a Foundation Course in Veterinary Acupuncture, with training in both Western and Traditional Acupuncture.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Acupuncture treatment should always follow an accurate diagnosis and a full evaluation of all treatment options. In most cases, it is best used in conjunction with conventional medicine but can sometimes be performed as a sole treatment. Acupuncture is extremely safe when practiced correctly and often reduces the animal’s requirements for medications that may cause undesirable side effects.
The pain-free treatment, which usually takes around thirty minutes, is tolerated very well by animals, and is performed without sedation. Animals can be treated in the consultation rooms and many owners choose to stay by their side and watch the procedure.
The procedure involves stimulating sensory nerves under the skin and in the muscles, resulting in the body producing natural substances, such as pain-relieving endorphins. These endorphins are responsible for the beneficial effects that are reported to be experienced by humans. Most animals visibly relax in response to the treatment and, at times, become sleepy.
A course of acupuncture generally creates longer lasting pain relief than when a single treatment is performed.
What Conditions Respond to Acupuncture?
Acupuncture can be used to treat a range of conditions, but it tends to be indicated for functional problems such as those that involve paralysis, non-infectious inflammation, and pain. The following are some of the general conditions which may be treated with acupuncture:
- Musculoskeletal problems, such as arthritis or traumatic nerve injury
- Respiratory problems, such as feline asthma or heaves
- Skin problems, such as allergic dermatitis
- Gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhoea or non-surgical colic
- Selected reproductive problems
Regular acupuncture treatment is often used to treat minor sports injuries as they occur and to help keep muscles and tendons resistant to injury. Acupuncture is a routine part of training for many athletes. If your animal is involved in an athletic endeavour, such as racing, jumping, or showing, acupuncture can help them to maintain optimal physical condition.