What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is inserting fine, solid needles into the body to relieve pain. It is thought to work through the nervous system, blocking pain messages and encouraging the brain and central nervous system to produce more of the body’s natural painkillers.
It is used as part of a multi-modal approach to the treatment of painful conditions. Whilst acupuncture needles stimulate nerves, they do not cause unpleasant feelings of pain.
Sometimes, animals may react to this sensation as though they expect pain but then relax because it does not occur. They usually 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.
What does it involve?
This treatment is non-invasive and is carried out in the consulting room without the need for sedation, with most patients accepting the treatment incredibly well.
Treatment courses will vary depending on the issue we are treating; the therapist will discuss this with you. After four weeks we will know whether acupuncture is working for your pet, and then, depending on the condition and how they have responded, we will work out a plan that usually involves tailing off the treatment so that the effect is maintained for as long as possible.
When is it used?
There are many reasons why acupuncture may be indicated for your pet, the most common being pain. Usually, this means pain associated with arthritis and muscle strains secondary to disc disease and bony spine changes. Other kinds of pain may also respond.
What to expect after treatment?
Your pet may show one of three responses to treatment:
- They may seem stiffer or more uncomfortable. After a day or two, they will improve again and should be better than before. However, you must tell your vet so that they can adjust the treatment next time.
- You may see no response. This is always disappointing, but it does not mean your pet will not respond; it may just be that they will take a little longer or that their improvement after the first treatment was too brief or small for you to see. We cannot say they will not respond until after the fourth treatment. Not all animals or humans are acupuncture “responders”.
- You may see an improvement. This may occur anytime in the three days after treatment. The signs we are trying to treat may return before the next treatment, but this is fine. After each subsequent treatment, the effects should last longer so that your pet may eventually not need more treatments for some time.