Acupuncture FAQ

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture can be “simply” defined as the insertion of needles into specific points on the body to produce a healing response. This technique has been practiced for thousands of years in China to treat various ailments, as well as prevent disease. It is used around the world, either alone or conjunction with Western medicine, treating a wide variety of conditions in every species of animal.

In 1996, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) stated "Veterinary acupuncture involves the examination and stimulation of specific points on the body of nonhuman animals by the use of acupuncture needles, moxibustion, injections, low-level lasers, magnets, and a variety of other techniques for the diagnosis and treatment of numerous conditions in animals." In 2014, the AVMA admitted the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture (AAVA) into the House of Delegates as a constituent allied veterinary organization, recognizing the validity of acupuncture in the treatment of animals.


How does it work?

From the Western perspective, acupuncture stimulates all major physiologic systems positively. It works primarily through the central nervous system affecting the musculoskeletal, hormonal, and cardiovascular systems. Acupuncture increases blood circulation, increases the release of many neurotransmitters and neurohormones, some of which are endorphins - the bodies "natural pain-killing" hormones. Acupuncture relieves muscle spasms, stimulates nerves, and stimulates the body's immune system. Stimulation by acupuncture needles multiplies natural morphine production 20 to 100 times. Electroacupuncture adds another three-fold increase in production of these natural pain killers. Acupuncture increases the levels of mood-elevating hormones such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine 30 - 50%.

From the Eastern perspective, poor health is considered to be an imbalance in the flow of "Qi" energy and Blood through the body. Acupuncture therapy helps to return the balance within the meridian energy flow. Stimulating specific acupuncture points that correlate with the pattern diagnosis "rebalances" the body to a more normal state. The ultimate goal of the acupuncturist is to treat the "root" cause. A patient responds faster and returns to a healthier state of health by addressing the root problem.

Acupuncture Questions

  • Pain Management (post-surgery pain, arthritis, hip dysplasia, disc disease)
  • Cardiovascular Disorders (cardiomyopathy, heart failure)
  • Respiratory Disorders (bronchitis, asthma)
  • Gastrointestinal Disorders (diarrhea, constipation, megacolon)
  • Reproductive disorders (infertility)
  • Immunological Disorders (autoimmune diseases such as immune medicated anemia, thrombocytopenia, pemphigus)
  • Dermatological disorders (dry itchy, moist dermatitis, lick granulomas)
  • Behavioral Disorders (aggression, anxiety, phobias, compulsive behaviors)
  • Neurological Disorders (seizures, nerve paralysis, degenerative myelopathy, phantom pain)
Acupuncture does not "cure" the above disorders. Modern medical practices seldom cure chronic medical conditions. Acupuncture helps to make the patient more comfortable, reduces the frequency and severity of the symptoms. In some patients, medications are reduced, decreasing the potentially harmful side effects, such as liver and kidney damage, to the body.
It can be. Acupuncture involves the use of thin sterilized stainless steel needles that are difficult to see with the naked eye. Having had acupuncture herself, Dr. Craig can testify that the level of sensitivity can range from nothing to a brief moment of a sharp sensation. For cats and patients that cannot tolerate needle placement or will not stay still long enough for the needles to stay in place, laser acupuncture can be done (with an additional charge).
Acupuncture is one of the safest therapies utilized when practiced by a trained acupuncturist. Side effects are rare, but possible. In these situations, the animal's condition may deteriorate temporarily before improving.
The answer is "it depends". The response to acupuncture is dependent on the severity of the disease, the chronicity of the disease, and the individual's ability to heal and balance. The more severe, the more chronic, and the weaker the patient, the longer it takes to respond. That being said -- the majority of my clients see improvement within 4 to 6 treatments. If there is little to no improvement after 4 to 6 treatments, acupuncture is not the best modality for your pet's medical condition.
Acupuncture: A Scientific Appraisal, Ernst, and White, 2000 --- Peter Deadman, Mazin Al-Khafaji, and Kevin Baker. A Manual of Acupuncture. Journal of Chinese Medicine Publications, 2007 --- Maciocia, Giovanni. Channels of Acupuncture. Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2006 --- Maciocia, Giovanni. Foundations of Chinese Medicine. Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 1989 --- Marsden, Steve and Susan Wynn. Manual of Natural Veterinary Medicine, Science, and Tradition. Mosby, 2003 --- Peilin, Sun. The Treatment of Pain with Chinese Herbs and Acupuncture. Editor: Sun Peillin. 2nd edition. Churchhill Livingstone Elsevier, 2011 --- Ross, Jeremy. Acupuncture and Point Combinations. Churchill Livingstone, 1995 --- Schoen, Allen M. Veterinary Acupuncture: Ancient Art to Modern, 2001 --- Xie, Huisheng. Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine: Fundamental Principles. 2nd Edition. Chi Institute Press, 2013 --- Xie, Huisheng. Xie's Veterinary Acupuncture. Blackwell Publishing, 2007 --- Xinnong, Cheng, ed. Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion. Foreign Languages Press, 1987.

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