Acupuncture is the practice of placing fine needles superficially into specific points on the body. Acupuncture has been used for centuries for various medical conditions and has recently been growing in popularity as an adjunctive treatment for many conditions in our veterinary patients. Many people are finding acupuncture therapy very beneficial for their pets for various conditions. We are very excited Dr. DeLeon is now able to offer veterinary acupuncture.
Please note that acupuncture is never a replacement for good diagnostics and traditional treatments but rather an adjunctive treatment once we have established a diagnosis.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture points are located in areas of concentrated nerve bundles and/or in close proximity to major blood vessels which themselves are surrounded by a rich nerve supply. Placing a needle at these points creates both local and systemic (widespread) effects. Local effects include: stimulation of nerve fibers inducing reactions that modulate pain signaling from the local area, dilation of blood vessels increasing blood supply to the area, and release of chemical substances that can work to repair damaged tissue. Stimulating a nerve at an acupuncture point will also affect the spinal cord segments from which the nerve originates. Often this will decrease the amount of pain signaling transmission that occurs through the local region. In some cases, other body structures whose nerve supply originates in this same spinal cord segment can be positively influenced. Finally, acupuncture has been demonstrated to cause increased serotonin and endorphin levels, creating a widespread reduction in pain sensation.
Is it painful? Is it safe?
Most human acupuncture patients report a very minor pin prick feeling or a dull ache associated with acupuncture needle placement, but do not often describe it as painful. The majority of our veterinary patients tolerate treatment very well and quite often become relaxed and sleepy during their treatment (most likely due to the release of serotonin and endorphins associated with acupuncture).
Veterinary acupuncture is very safe when performed properly by a trained veterinarian. The needles are sterile and thin making the risk of infection extremely low. Other side effects are extremely rare.
Conditions in which we would consider adding acupuncture to a treatment regimen
- Musculoskeletal- arthritis, soft tissue injuries, neck and back pain
- Neurologic- nerve injuries/paralysis, intervertebral disc disease
- Gastrointestinal- chronic vomiting or diarrhea (such as with inflammatory bowel disease)
- constipation, nausea, loss of appetite
- Urinary and reproductive- feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), urinary incontinence, irregular reproductive cycle
- Respiratory- chronic upper respiratory infections, feline asthma
- Ophthalmic- keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS/ dry eye), corneal ulceration
- Skin disorders- lick granuloma, chronic wound
- Post-operative or post-dental procedure- for pain relief and faster return to function