What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture forms part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which is a complete system of medicine that has been developed over many centuries. There is evidence that veterinary acupuncture was practiced during the Zang and Chow Dynasties in China around 2000-3000 BC. TCM has developed its own perception of the body and of health and disease that may seem at odds with our understanding in the west. In TCM all of the parts of the body system have an integrated relationship with each other and the practitioner is trained to recognise patterns of imbalance in the energy system of the body. The energy of the body is described as Qi and in TCM it is believed to flow through the body in defined paired meridians along which acupuncture points are situated and can be accessed by the practitioner to change energy flow and balance using needles or more recently using low level laser in place of the traditional needle.
In recent decades western medicine has looked closely at the acupuncture points and meridians and has clearly defined in many cases correlation with nerve fibres and receptors linked with the nervous system that clearly explain in western terms how acupuncture works. This has given credibility in the west to a system of medicine that for centuries was unexplainable other than in the energy terms of the ancient eastern understanding.
What is clear to us at Wharfedale Veterinary Centre is that there is a tendency in the West for simple ‘cookbook’ prescribing where certain points are learned for certain conditions. Whilst this has some validity and usefulness for simple conditions, the true pattern recognition of TCM yields a much deeper understanding of the disease process and superior results in developing treatment protocols for our patients.
In traditional acupuncture needles are inserted into the points alongside an evaluation of the animals tongue and pulses.
Initial treatment involves a longer first appointment which includes an evaluation of the patient (usually 40 – 60 minutes) followed by e.g. in the case of chronic arthritis, four weekly sessions and eventually top up sessions as required. In chronic arthritis for example, top up sessions are often given every 4 – 6 weeks. The animal will be the decider of the frequency of follow up appointments, as the pathology in chronic conditions will start to return when the next session is due. In acute disease cure is of course the objective without the need for follow up sessions and the more acute the disease the more frequently the acupuncture is given e.g. a severely torn ligament may need daily sessions initially.
Why use acupuncture?
Acupuncture used in a truly holistic manner can be used as part of the treatment of many conditions. At Wharfedale Veterinary Centre we find it particularly useful in arthritis, spinal disease and other musculoskeletal conditions and use it as part of an integrative approach to minimise the use of drugs that may have serious side effects.
When would you not use acupuncture?
At Wharfedale Veterinary Centre we do not advocate the use of acupuncture in cancer cases to avoid any possibility of stimulating tumour cell growth.