Acupuncture is a practice with several thousand years of history in which practitioners use thin flexible needles to enhance the body’s own healing systems to re-establish balance. Specific locations on the body were found by Chinese healers to be especially powerful.
Medical acupuncture adds the further understanding that these locations are rich in nerve endings or other anatomical features that access the nervous system. By accessing these locations, we can affect the muscular, endocrine, and immune systems. Acupuncture complements and integrates with, but does not take the place of, diagnosis or medical treatments.
In veterinary medicine, the best-known use for acupuncture is in the treatment of canine intervertebral disc disease. Dogs with this disease have sudden onset of back pain, which may include or progress to paralysis, especially in the hind legs. Treatments include pain medication, anti-inflammatory medication, rest, and possibly surgery. Acupuncture can be used to reduce pain and inflammation, as well as to stimulate nerve transmission from the feet to the spinal cord. If surgery is needed, acupuncture can also be used afterward for the same purposes.
Veterinary medical acupuncture has also been used to help control epileptic seizures, treat nausea, improve GI motility, and treat other painful and stress-related processes. It is not contraindicated in cancer cases.
At Riverbend, we use acupuncture to complement our more traditional medical treatments. Dr. Christina White, who is certified in veterinary medical acupuncture, uses this service to treat pain and inflammation and to enhance healing in dogs and cats.
Initial visits are one hour. Half-hour follow-up rechecks are scheduled weekly or less often, depending on the needs of the individual patient.
After an acupuncture treatment, animals may be tired or sore for the following 24 hours, similar to how a person might feel after deep tissue massage. We recommend having them take it easy, with small amounts of controlled exercise to loosen up.
It may take a few treatments to see improvement in symptoms, which initially may last only days to a few weeks, especially in chronic conditions. However, over time, the benefit can be dramatic.
Please talk with us if you would like to find out more about medical acupuncture for your dog or cat.