What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the practise of inserting fine, solid needles into the body for pain relief or, in some cases, to help the body deal with other diseases. It is a drug free, complementary therapy. Pain is the most common indication for acupuncture, for example pain associated with arthritis, but also muscle strains, or pain secondary to disc disease and bony changes of the spine.
Acupuncture is now a recognised way of effectively relieving pain and discomfort. For this reason, the majority of insurance companies will now cover the costs if the treatment is recommended by your vet.
How does it work?
Acupuncture works through the nervous system. The needles block pain messages to the brain, and encourage the brain and central nervous system to produce more of the body’s natural painkillers. In conditions that are not painful, acupuncture may help to reset the body’s normal functioning. This can be seen some cases such as constipation and cystitis.
Will it hurt my pet?
Acupuncture needles stimulate nerves that do not cause the unpleasant feelings of pain that we are trying to treat. They stimulate other nerves that send a more important message to the brain, which is how they block pain. Sometimes animals may react to this sensation as though they are expecting pain, but then relax because it does not occur. Most of the time they accept the fine needles very well and often become relaxed and sleepy during the treatment. Often they appear to look forward to the next treatment when they come back to the practice. It is uncommon for animals to need to be sedated for treatment.
How often would my pet need to be treated?
Usually, an initial course of treatment is one session every week for four to six weeks. After this initial course we will know if acupuncture will work for your pet or not. Depending on the condition, and how well they have responded we will work out a plan than usually involves tailoring off treatment so that the effect is maintained for as long as possible. Usually top up treatments are required every four to six weeks.
Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture is very safe in the right hands. Legally, it must be performed by a veterinary surgeon. There have been no official reports of problems in animals, but there are some in humans and these can usually be avoided with care and a good knowledge of anatomy.
What can I expect during treatment?
After examination, needles will be put into various parts of the body. These may be moved a few times to stimulate the area. There is not a set ‘dose’ of acupuncture as there is for medication so your vet will judge how much to do based on your pet’s response both at the time and after the treatment. They may become sleepy and relaxed during the sessions.
What can I expect after the treatment?
Once at home, pets often sleep very soundly for a very long time! This is a good sign and shows that your pet will probably respond well to acupuncture. Do not worry if they are not sleepy, this does not mean that they will not respond. Sometimes your pet may be a little more euphoric than usual. We recommend giving them a quiet day following their acupuncture session but otherwise treating them normally.
How can I tell that my pet has responded to acupuncture?
Your pet may show one of three responses to treatment:
- Your pet may seem stiffer at first but, after a couple of days, be better than before treatment. This suggests the treatment has worked but may have been a bit too much at the time. Tell your vet so they can adjust the treatment at the next session.
- You may see no response. This is always disappointing but does not mean your pet will not respond. It may take a little while, and it may take till the fourth treatment to see a response. Not all animals or humans are acupuncture ‘responders’, but 80% will be.
- You may see an improvement. This may occur any time in the three days after treatment. The signs that we are trying to treat may then return before the next treatment, but this is fine. After each subsequent treatment the effects should last for longer so that your pet may eventually not need any more treatments for some time.
- While the majority of insurance policies now cover alternative therapies, we always recommend you check your policy.
Find out if acupuncture might be the answer by booking an initial consultation on 01969 623024