Acupuncture for the Relief of Pain and To Aid in Healing
Just like their human counterparts, animals can suffer long-term pain that can often be debilitating lessening their quality of life. While many conditions are easily treated by medication, short-term/long-term side effects, cost, or lifestyle needs often make medication therapy an unattractive solution.
Using needles to help alleviate pain and treat certain conditions is nothing new – the Chinese have used acupuncture on both humans and animals for well over 4,000 years. While many people might be skeptical, acupuncture is an accepted form of therapeutic treatment recognized by the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association). Recent clinic research shows positive results in treating a wide variety of conditions in both animals and people. While not the perfect solution for every condition, acupuncture can bring much needed relief to your pet while aiding in the healing process.
Though rooted in Eastern medicine, clinical studies show acupuncture assists the body’s ability to heal by affecting physiologic change. The result of 29 case studies, with over 18,000 participants, indicated acupuncture was effective in relieving pain by about 50%. In Eastern terms, acupuncture is thought to “correct imbalances in the flow of energy in the body” (called the “Qi”). In Western terms, “the effect of acupuncture is to adjust the body’s neurotransmitters, hormone levels, or immune system”.
Acupuncture is best used to provide relief for noninfectious inflammation and pain. Examples of conditions we can use acupuncture to treat include:
- Musculoskeletal issues such as arthritis; hip dysplasia
- Neurological issues such as disk disease or nerve pain
- Injuries such as sprains, muscle pulls, or tendonitis
- Pain and nausea related to cancer
- Lick granulomas
- Digestive issues such as diarrhea and constipation
- General pain issues / chronic pain
- Behavior issues including anxiety; stress disorders; nervousness
The idea of sticking needles in the body is scary, but Dr. Dugger’s found that most patients easily accept the procedure – often becoming so relax they fall asleep on the exam table. Even the smallest cat or dog can tolerate the procedure well.
Treatment is best done in a soothing and calm environment. In the home, we recommend a quiet room with no distractions. Treatment lasts anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes depending on the condition and any other treatments currently in use. Pets may be treated one to three times a week depending on the severity of their condition, but typically, the procedure is repeated weekly over a period of four to six weeks. Maintenance care will then continue as needed.
Relief is usually seen after the first 24 to 48 hours of treatment. Though not all pets respond, we recommend doing at least 4 to 6 treatments before re-evaluating next steps and other options.
If you wish to try acupuncture for your animal, seek out a qualified veterinarian specially trained in acupuncture and in the specific needs and conditions of animals.
Dr. Dugger is a formally trained technician of veterinary acupuncture through OneHealth Sim, in partnership with CSU and CVMA, and has been providing acupuncture as a treatment option for her patients for well over 12 years.
If you'd like more information, please call the clinic at 303.257.0202.