Article by Jess Casey, DVM
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the stimulation of very specific points on the body to produce a response. This response aids in providing pain relief and in the treatment of a variety of disease conditions. This occurs by the insertion of extremely fine needles at these points. Chinese medicine explains acupuncture as a technique for balancing the flow of energy or life force (chi) which flows through pathways called meridians in the body.
How I became interested
My first exposure to veterinary acupuncture came early in my career. My first job in an animal hospital was over 20 years ago as a receptionist in a small animal clinic in North Carolina. In some ways it almost amazes me to think of it now, one of the veterinarians there practiced acupuncture and had quite a wide and dedicated clientele for this service. Within a few short months, my position allowed me to see the results of his work first hand. Repeatedly, dogs who suffered from arthritis or other joint disease would walk through the front door with a stiff, slow gait upon arrival for their first acupuncture appointment. Typically, their human companions reported that they regularly received one or more medications that were inadequately managing their pain. Some of these medications came with undesirable side effects that had to be tolerated. It became a common occurrence, however, for me to welcome the same dogs as they walked in the door a few weeks or months later with a smoother stride and much more pep in their step. Many of these patients were also off of medications since starting acupuncture!
I enrolled in the IVAS (International Veterinary Acupuncture Society) acupuncture course while still completing my internship in emergency and critical care, and completed both within a few weeks of each other. After 6 years of practicing emergency and critical care I felt an increasing desire to develop longer term relationships with both patients and clients. For me, the opportunity to more fully incorporate acupuncture into my veterinary practice fulfills a long held dream. One in which I can offer a treatment modality that I feel is an important component of providing animals the very best care and quality of life possible.
What conditions does Acupuncture treat?
Acupuncture is most often recommended as part of a pain management plan or for neurologic disease. However, acupuncture can also be beneficial in the treatment of respiratory infections, skin problems, gastrointestinal problems and more. It has also been used as adjunctive therapy for cardiac and renal disease.
What should I expect?
If you are considering acupuncture for your pet, the recommended treatment plan will depend on whether they are suffering from a short or long term condition. For acute conditions, a single or multiple treatments within a short period may be appropriate. For more chronic issues like arthritis, you might expect an initial period where acupuncture is recommended once a week or every other week for the first month or two, then progressing to treatments once a month or even less dependent on your pet’s response. The initial assessment of your pet is done in an hour long appointment. After that, the appointments can be much shorter in duration.
To set an initial acupuncture assessment and appointment, call Riverside Animal Hospital and request an acupuncture appointment with Dr. Jess Casey!