1. What is acupuncture?
Developed in China over 3000 years ago, acupuncture uses small needles inserted into specific points on the body to achieve a desired healing effect. This technique has been used in both human and veterinary patients to treat existing conditions and also to prevent new problems from arising. According to Chinese medical philosophy, disease is a result of imbalance of energy in the body. Acupuncture is believed to balance this energy and assist the body in the healing process. In Western terms, acupuncture stimulates nerves, increases blood circulation, relieves muscle spasm and releases hormones such as endorphins that aid in pain control. Further research is needed to uncover all of acupuncture’s effects and for science to fully understand how this ancient art of healing truly works.
2. What conditions can acupuncture treat?
Acupuncture can be used by itself or in conjunction with Western medicine to treat a variety of medical problems. Its main indication is for functional problems such as paralysis, noninfectious inflammation and pain. The following are some of the general conditions that may be treated with acupuncture:
- Musculoskeletal problems such as arthritis, hip dysplasia and intervertebral disc disease
- Skin problems such as allergies and lick granulomas
- Gastrointestinal problems such as inflammatory bowel disease, diarrhea and constipation
- Genitourinary problems such as chronic renal failure and urinary incontinence
- Respiratory problems such as feline asthma
- Endocrine problems such as diabetes mellitus and hyperthyroidism
- Neurologic problems such as seizures
- Neoplasia such as lymphoma, mammary cancer and mast cell tumors
3. Is acupuncture painful?
The insertion of acupuncture needles is virtually painless, and once the needles are in place there should be no discomfort to your pet. Most animals will become relaxed or even sleepy during their treatment. Sensation varies from animal to animal and some points on the body may be more sensitive than others. Human patients describe feelings similar to tingles, cramps or numbness, which may translate to mild discomfort in some pets.
4. Is acupuncture safe for my pet?
Acupuncture is one of the safest forms of medical treatment when performed by a trained veterinarian. Side effects are rare but do exist. In the first 24-48 hours following a treatment, some animals may appear sleepy or lethargic and the condition may appear to be worse. These symptoms reflect a physiologic change brought about by the treatment and are most often followed by an improvement in your pet’s condition.
5. How long do treatments last and how often must they be given?
The length and frequency of treatments depends on the condition of the patient and the technique used by the veterinary acupuncturist. Stimulation of a single point may take as little as 10 seconds or as much as 30 minutes. A simple, acute injury such as a sprain may take one treatment, while a more severe or chronic disease can take multiple treatments.
When multiple visits are necessary, they usually begin intensely and are tapered to maximum efficiency. A positive response is usually seen after the first to third treatment. Once a maximum positive response is achieved (usually after 4-8 treatments), sessions are tapered off so the greatest amount of symptom-free time elapses between them. Many animals with chronic conditions can taper off to 2-4 treatments per year.
To schedule an acupuncture consultation or to make an appointment, please call 212.329.8610.