About Acupuncture

Acupuncture is the technique of inserting thin needles through the skin at certain points on the body to control pain and other symptoms. I use sterile disposable needles. In animals, acupuncture is classed as a schedule three (an act of veterinary surgery) procedure, and as such may only be carried out by a qualified vet and member of the RCVS.

 

How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture works through the nervous system. The needles block and modulate pain messages that the brain receives at the level of the spinal cord by stimulating large nerves that compete with the smaller pain transmitting nerves. Placement of acupuncture needles also causes the release of endogenous molecules called enkephalins which have an inhibitory effect on pain signals.

I have been trained in the Western approach to acupuncture. Traditional Chinese Medicine uses many specific points along energy channels or meridians in the body. The Western approach uses these points in addition to identifying and placing needles in or near Trigger Points (TrPs). TrPs are painful taut bands of muscle that can form secondary to a long term condition such as arthritis or in response to an acute injury such as a muscle strain or tear. Using the Western approach gives me the freedom to place needles anywhere on an animal's body where TrPs have formed, providing it is anatomically safe to do so, as well as using more traditional acupuncture points.

 

What conditions can be treated?

In animals acupuncture is primarily used to alleviate pain associated with musculoskeletal pain such as arthritic joints, post orthopaedic surgery and back pain. However, it can also be used as an aid in the treatment in certain skin conditions such as allergic skin disease and wound management, and some functional conditions such as recurrent constipation in cats and irritable bowel type problems in dogs.

 

What to expect

An acupuncture session will usually last around thirty to forty five minutes. The first consultation will last longer in order to enable me to gather your pet's full history and perform an initial examination. In addition, I will need to contact your regular Veterinary Surgeon to obtain consent for treatment prior to our first appointment.

A course of four to six weekly treatments is usually recommended, followed by a maintenance treatment every four to six weeks depending on the problem and how your pet responds. Acupuncture can almost always be claimed for on pet insurance, providing the condition that the animal is receiving acupuncture for is covered by the policy.

Most animals tolerate needle placement extremely well, many will even fall asleep during treatments! This is usually a sign that he or she will respond well to acupuncture. Having said that, if your pet doesn't become sleepy this does not mean that there will be no response. Approximately 80% of animals will respond well to acupuncture.

The number of needles placed and the length of time they are in place for during treatment is individual to the patient, and you will probably see one of three things following treatment:

  1. Your pet may seem more painful the day after treatment. This may mean that too many needles were placed or the needles were stimulated too frequently. Subsequent treatments can be adjusted if this occurs
  2. You may see no response. This could be due to a small but transient improvement that was too subtle to see, or because insufficient needles were placed. Again subsequent treatments can be adjusted if this occurs. Little or no response can seem disappointing, but please remember that we cannot say that an animal will not respond until he or she has received four treatments.
  3. You may see an improvement. My clients often report an improvement in demeanour before an improvement in mobility. Any improvement will typically last up to three days after the initial session, and subsequent treatments should provide longer lasting results via mRNA upregulation.

 

Cost of treatment

Initial visit, assessment and treatment: £60

Subsequent visits and treatment: £50 per session 

Acupuncture Facts

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