What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the insertion of extremely fine needles into specific acupuncture points on the body to stimulate the body's natural healing response. Each acupuncture point on the body has different actions. Acupuncture can be used in conjunction with Western medicine and can help with a wide variety of conditions in humans as well as animals.
At Acupetture, we use an integrative approach of acupuncture and Western therapies, based on the individual animal.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture causes physiological changes in the body to promote its natural healing response. Acupuncture works by stimulating nerves and blood circulation, relieving muscle spasms, and causing the release of hormones (eg. endorphins and other pain relieving, anti-inflammatory hormones) into the bloodstream.
What conditions can acupuncture be used for?
Mostly commonly, we use acupuncture in musculoskeletal diseases and neurological problems, such as:
Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD or "slipped disc")
Patellar luxation ("slipping kneecaps")
Cruciate ligament tears
Muscle and ligament injuries
We also commonly use it for pain management and palliative care, for example, in cancer.
Acupuncture can also be used as an adjunct treatment for skin problems, respiratory problems, gastrointestinal problems, urinary tract disorders, eye and ear disorders and immune disorders.
We always recommend that we come to a diagnosis for your pet before starting acupuncture treatment, because acupuncture may mask the signs of your pet's condition.
Is acupuncture painful?
Acupuncture is practically painless, as the needles are extremely thin. Sometimes, animals even fall asleep during acupuncture! In some animals, there may be a feeling of tingling or numbness, which might be uncomfortable. In the rare case where acupuncture is really not tolerated, there are alternative treatments we can use. There is something to help every animal.
Are there any side effects?
Because acupuncture stimulates the body's own natural healing mechanisms and does not make use of drugs, it is one of the safest forms of treatments. However, there may be occasional side effects:
An animal may seem worse, more sore or stiff for up to 48 hours.
Some animals may be lethargic for up to 24 hours.
These signs actually indicate that changes are starting to take place in your pet's body - in fact, they are most commonly followed by an improvement.
Do I need to stop any medicine my pet is currently taking?
Usually not; however you should let the clinician know what drugs your pet is currently taking.
How often does acupuncture need to be done?
If the problem is a recent or acute one, treatments may be required every couple of days.
For more long-standing, chronic conditions, treatments are done 1 to 2 times a week for a few weeks, and then tapered as your pet's condition improves.
It is also important not to give up too early with treatments! The success of the treatment will vary according to the number and frequency of acupuncture treatments. We recommend at least 4 to 6 sessions before determining the effect. Remember acupuncture is stimulating the body’s own internal healing mechanisms, so it can sometimes take a while! This is because with acupuncture, we aim to nip the problem at the root, not at the branches.
When can I see an improvement in my pet?
If the problem is a recent one, you may see an improvement after a single treatment, although follow up treatments may be necessary to restore health fully.
If the problem has been a long-standing one, it will take longer for improvements to show. Improvements can usually be seen between 1 to 8 weeks.