Q. What Is Acupuncture?
Veterinary Acupuncture is considered a Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medical (CAVM) treatment modality. Small needles are inserted into specific points on the body (associated with neurovascular bundles comprised of small arteries, veins and nerves) with the intent of causing a desired healing effect. The technique has been used for thousands of years and is considered a valid modality within the practice of veterinary medicine and surgery by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Used alone or integrated with conventional veterinary medicine or other complementary modalities, veterinary acupuncture helps the body to heal itself by normalizing the nervous system and affecting beneficial physiologic changes.
Q. Are You Certified in Acupuncture?
Dr. Nie is certified in veterinary acupuncture through the Medical Acupuncture for Veterinarians training program, the only veterinary acupuncture training program dedicated to training acupuncture exclusively from a scientific and evidence-based standpoint. Dr. Nie’s certification is also recognized by and he holds full membership in the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS).
Q. How Does Acupuncture Work?
A healthy body is said to be in a state of “homeostasis” or “balance.” Illness, injury or every day life (i.e., gravity, improper diet, exercise, rest, nervous function or mental attitude) cause a body to become unbalanced. Acupuncture is a complementary treatment used to help the body return to a homeostatic state. Acupuncture works primarily through neuro-modulation affecting most body systems. It also stimulates blood flow, tissue repair and immuno-modulation locally. By choosing the right points, a veterinary acupuncturist can help improve blood flow to a animal’s failing organs or inhibit the sensation of pain an animal might experience from arthritis. Although acupuncture is not a miracle cure, it is a very useful complement to any traditional veterinary treatment option for animals.
Q. Is Acupuncture Safe?
Acupuncture is one of the safest treatments available when practiced by a competent veterinary acupuncturist. Side effects are rare. Because acupuncture stimulates the body’s own innate healing processes and no chemicals are administered, complications rarely, if ever, develop.
Q. What Are Some Conditions That Respond To Or Can Benefit From Acupuncture?
- Pain– arising from virtually any condition
- Musculoskeletal Conditions– arthritis, osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease (DJD), hip dysplasia, myofacial restriction, trigger points, muscle soreness, back pain, neck pain, laminitis, tendon injuries, obscure lameness
- Pre- or Postoperative Assistance– anesthesia recovery, pain management, healing
- Neurologic Disorders– intervertebral disk disease (IVDD), nerve injuries, paralysis, paresis (weakness), seizures, stroke, vestibular disease, neuritis
- Gastrointestinal Disorders– vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, constipation, decreased appetite, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), non-surgical colic
- Cardiovascular & Respiratory Disorders– nasal discharge, sinusitis, chronic coughing, circulatory disease, asthma, inflammatory airway disease, emergencies (cardiac or respiratory arrest)
- Liver Disorders– hepatitis, jaundice
- Skin Problems– lick granulomas, allergic dermatitis, wound healing, pruritus
- Behavioral Issues– aggression, anxiety, barking, inappropriate urination
- Urogenital Disorders– chronic kidney disease, urinary tract infections, urinary incontinence, feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), urine retention
- Ocular Disorders– keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye), uveitis
- Reproductive Disorders– fertility problems
- Immune Stimulation– immuno-suppressed patients,
- Oncology Patients– chemotherapy side effects, improved patient vitality
- Miscellaneous– anhydrosis
- Benefits of Ongoing Treatments– improved quality of life and well being, resistance to illness, quicker recovery from illness, injury and surgery, quicker response to conventional veterinary therapy, enhanced performance, improved vitality, stamina and mobility
- Others– these are but a few conditions and circumstances for which integrative therapy can be beneficial. There are many more specific situations in which pets and horses can benefit from integrating acupuncture with traditional veterinary care.
Q. Is Acupuncture Painful ?
Acupuncture is performed with very thin (much thinner than a hypodermic needle used to administer a vaccine), sterilized, stainless steel needles. It is not painful and most patients do not even react to needle insertion. When a reaction is seen, it is usually at a site that was found to be responsive to palpation during a pre-treatment exam. Once a needle is in place, the patient may feel warmth, heaviness or tingling at the insertion site. Reactions vary but many patients experience significant relaxation and some companion animals may even fall asleep with their needles in place.
Q. How long do acupuncture treatments last and how often are they given?
Response to acupuncture is quite individual and the effects are usually cumulative. Typically, animals are treated once or twice a week for 4-6 weeks. However, frequency may be increased in certain acute conditions while maintenance therapy for chronic conditions may be spread out to longer intervals. During a treatment session, individual needles may stay in place for as little as a few seconds to as long as 30 minutes or more depending on the condition being treated. On average needles are retained in place for about 15-20 minutes and a complete treatment session may last 30-45 minutes. While results are often seen following the first treatment, it can take 3-5 sessions to appreciate changes in some chronic cases because the body has to respond and use its innate ability to heal. Therefore, before selecting acupuncture as a treatment option, an owner should commit to providing their horse or pet several treatments before assessing its benefit.
Q. Does My Pet Need A Referral For Acupuncture Treatment?
Your pet does not need a referral to IVSMO for an initial evaluation and consultation with Dr. Nie. However, because an accurate diagnosis is necessary to help better determine whether acupuncture is appropriate for treating your pet or horse’s condition, Dr. Nie may need additional diagnostics beyond a his physical and acupuncture examination. In some situations, acupuncture will not directly benefit your pet or horse’s primary problem (e.g., cancer, infections) but the resulting pain relief and improved sense of well-being can mask signs of progression. In these types of cases, acupuncture should be integrated with conventional veterinary care after an accurate diagnosis is made. If additional diagnostics are needed, Dr. Nie will either refer you back to your regular veterinarian or if you do not have a current relationship with a veterinarian, recommend one for you. In most instances, your regular veterinarian already knows your pet or horse well and is therefore best suited to make the diagnosis and start conventional therapy, if appropriate. Working with a traditional care veterinarian, Dr. Nie will then integrate acupuncture with any conventional care prescribed to improve your pet or horse’s outcome.