Derived from ancient Chinese medicine, acupuncture involves inserting fine needles into certain sites on the body for pain relief or other therapeutic purposes.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture stimulates the nervous system to reduce the transmission of pain and to encourage the release of endorphins (the body’s own natural painkillers) and other healing factors.
Does acupuncture hurt?
Acupuncture needles do not stimulate the nerves which transmit pain, they stimulate other nerve fibres which results in the pain signal being blocked. In general, pets do not react to the needles as they are so fine. Most pets find the treatment enjoyable as they become sleepy and relaxed, they often look forward to coming back for more treatments.
Would my pet need to be sedated for acupuncture?
No, your pet should not need to be sedated for acupuncture, they just need to remain reasonably still for placement of the needles. Surprisingly even cats and rabbits can be happily treated awake.
How often would my pet be treated?
Initially acupuncture sessions are weekly for the first 4-6 weeks. Your pet would then be reassessed to determine their response to treatment and how to maintain it. Depending on the condition we are treating, and the response from the patient, treatment can be reduced to a maintenance level of every 4 weeks.
Is acupuncture safe?
When undertaken by properly trained veterinary surgeons, acupuncture is safe. In fact, it has no negative side effects unlike other pain relief medications we use. Some health conditions can mean our pets are not suitable candidates for acupuncture; if you have any specific concerns these can be discussed.
What can acupuncture be used to treat?
Mostly acupuncture is used in the management of pain - often this is arthritic pain, but acupuncture can also treat muscle injuries and pain due to disc problems in the spine. Other uses for acupuncture include- wound healing, skin conditions, digestive problems, and urinary disorders.
What can I expect during treatment?
Your pet will be examined first, then have needles placed into different locations around their body. As each pet will respond differently to acupuncture, the number of needles and the time they are left in place will be specific to them. Once we get an idea of how your pet will respond, more needles can be placed and left in for longer. They may become relaxed and sleepy during treatment.
What can I expect immediately after the treatment?
If your pet is a good responder to acupuncture, they may have a nice restful sleep after treatment. However, it is not concerning if this does not happen, they will still be benefiting from the other effects of acupuncture. Occasionally our pets feel spritelier after a treatment - it is important they do not overdo it if this is the case. There is no need to change anything in your pet’s routine (feeding, exercise or medication) following acupuncture, unless this was discussed with your vet.
How will my pet respond to the first treatment?
Your pet will likely have one of the following 3 responses to treatment:
- They may show an improvement within a few days following treatment. The more treatments your pet has, the longer this positive response should last, allowing us to reduce the frequency of treatments.
- You may notice no change. Although this is disappointing, for some pets it takes more than one treatment to start to see a response. 80% of pets do respond to acupuncture and the changes should be apparent after 4 treatments.
- Your pet may seem slightly stiffer or slower the following day. This can happen if the treatment was slightly too much for your pet so please let your vet know if this is the case so adjustments can be made. Any stiffness usually eases after a day or so, often followed by an improvement.