At The Animal Clinic, we are offering this alternative pain management therapy. Acupuncture is performed by our excellent veterinary surgeon, Nicki, who has undertaken further training in this complementary therapy.
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine that has been used for thousands of years in China and other parts of Asia. It has been used in Western medicine in humans for some time but only recently in veterinary medicine. The concepts of Western and Chinese medicine differ but ultimately they both attempt to treat the same conditions. Chinese acupuncture is based on a more holistic approach which aims to restore balance within the body. The Western approach is more mechanical in that it is used for a specific disease or disorder and focuses on treating the damaged area.
We use acupuncture as a stand alone therapy and in combination with other treatments to help manage a variety of conditions.
How does it work?
Acupuncture is most commonly used to help manage painful conditions through its actions on the central nervous system. It activates the body’s own pain control system to deal with potentially painful stimuli within the nervous system. Very fine sterile acupuncture needles are used at specific points on the body to stimulate small nerve fibres which then activate the release of substances called neurotransmitters that block pain “messages”. The best known of these neurotransmitters are endorphins.
When needling, we cause very minor trauma to the areas we choose. This stimulates local inflammation similar to the response in the brain and body that would occur by actual damage, without that damage having to occur. In turn it produces a local effect to improve blood supply to that area. Additionally it provides muscle and tissue relaxation. This helps to both relieve pain and promote healing. This last effect makes it very useful in aiding wound healing.
How is it done?
Most animals tolerate acupuncture very well. It is actually often easier to needle an animal than a human as they don’t experience the same anxiety and associated muscle tension that we do. We try to find a comfortable position for your pet and often the owner stays with them to help keep them relaxed. A slight reaction by the patient is often seen as the needles are inserted but once done, little pain is experienced. The number of acupuncture sites used varies from case to case and can change at each session depending on the response to the treatment. The needles are normally left in for about 10 minutes each time.
How often are the sessions?
Each case is different and the number and frequency of sessions will be planned according to the condition being treated and the response. For example, a dog recovering from orthopaedic surgery may require more frequent sessions but for a shorter time than a dog where are using acupuncture to help manage arthritis in the long term.
We book at least 20 minutes so that we can examine and evaluate your pet before needling. It also provides time to discuss the overall plan, in cases where acupuncture is being used as only part of the pain management.
If you would like more information or would like to book an appointment, please contact the practice on 020 8319 3033.