Acupuncture refers to placing small needles in very specific anatomic locations with the goal to have a therapeutic effect. It can be used as part of an integrative approach for many medical problems. Acupuncture is an ancient component of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and has been around for more than 3000 years. In TCM the patient is seen as a whole organism with interconnected energy. Western Medicine (traditional veterinary medicine) views the animal in terms of its specific body systems. Both TCM and Western Medicine have many benefits. Integrative medicine is a combination of TCM and Western Medicine.
At the Wellington Veterinary Clinic, Dr. Tracey Jensen uses acupuncture along with Western Medicine to treat many conditions, but especially chronic pain conditions such as arthritis. Acupuncture points are very specific anatomic places that are usually close to nerves, arteries and veins – the communication channels of the body. By inserting needles into these points we can manipulate the sensation of pain (decrease it) and influence the secretion of many hormones that have systemic effects. Acupuncture points can also be stimulated by heat (moxa) and mild electrical stimulation (ES).
In addition to traditional veterinary school training Dr. Jensen also obtained her Veterinary Medical Acupuncture Certification at Colorado State University. She is trained in “neuroanotomic acupuncture”, which has less emphasis on the “energy” and more emphasis on the nervous system using an evidence based approach. If you’d like to discuss how acupuncture works on a neuro-physiologic level, or to learn if acupuncture could be helpful for your pet please call our office to talk with Dr. Jensen.
When Can Acupuncture Be Used?
Acupuncture is often used for chronic conditions when conventional medicine alone hasn’t worked or is unsafe for that particular pet. For example, if your pet has kidney or liver disease they may not be able to take certain pain medications for arthritis. Acupuncture can be a great adjunctive or alternative therapy. See the list of conditions below to see if your pet’s condition might be helped!
It is very important to have a good diagnosis of your pet’s specific situation. This is important to know if acupuncture could be beneficial and to help plan the most effective treatment. Dr. Jensen frequently combines acupuncture treatments with traditional western medical treatments.
What To Expect During A Treatment
Acupuncture treatments are generally soothing to the animal. During a session, needles are inserted into specific places (acupuncture points) and are left in for 10 – 20 minutes. Most animals don’t have any outward reactions to this and many get very sleepy or relaxed. In some cases Dr. Jensen uses electro-acupuncture to increase the stimulation to the needles with mild electrical stimulation. It may take multiple treatments to see the effects of acupuncture, and anyone interested in testing it’s efficacy should commit to at least 3 – 4 sessions. Since treatments are often calming, it is normal for most patients to be sleepy for several hours after a session of acupuncture. Studies show that acupuncture works well in about 75% of patients.
List of Conditions
Acupuncture treats a lot more than painful conditions! Acupuncture has promise for helping any pet that has a reversible or painful condition.
- Pain: muscular tension, neck and back pain, neuropathic pain, soft tissue pain, bony pain, cancer pain
- Gastrointestinal diseases: chronic diarrhea, constipation, vomiting
- Skin problems: skin lesions, wounds and acral lick granulomas!
- Eye problems: best for keratoconjunctivitis sicca but also may help in other eye conditions
- Neurologic disease: especially epilepsy and seizure cases
- Respiratory tract: laryngeal paralysis, seasonal allergic rhinitis, asthma, and possibly reverse sneezes
- Urinary issues: incontinence, recurring urinary tract infections
- Immune system: immune function boosts & autoimmune conditions