WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE?
Most simply stated, acupuncture (acus=needle, punctura=puncture) is the stimulation of specific points on the body, which have the ability to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions in order to achieve the desired effect. It is a means of helping the body heal itself. Acupuncture has been used successfully for nearly 4000 years on animals as well as humans. It is not a panacea, a cure-all, but where it is indicated it works well. Acupuncture therapy is used to complement conventional therapy, particularly in cases when medications are ineffective or are having undesirable side effects and where surgery is not feasible.
WHAT CONDITIONS CAN ACUPUNCTURE TREAT?
Musculoskeletal Disorders/Chronic Pain Conditions
Osteoarthritis — Post-operative therapy for Cruciate Repair — Hip Dysplasia — Terminal Cancer Pain — Intervertebral Disk Disease
Traumatic Nerve Injury — Facial Nerve Paralysis — Caudal Cervical Spondylomyelopathy (Wobbler’s) – Spinal Cord Compression
Feline Asthma –Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Chronic intractable diarrhea and/or constipation — Inflammatory Bowel Disease — Nausea — Decreased appetite
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Dr. Lyons utilizes a scientific neuroanatomical approach to acupuncture, reflecting the idea that needle placement is guided by her detailed knowledge of veterinary anatomy and neurology.
Acupuncture does more than relieve pain. How it works depends on what condition one is treating and which points are utilized. Acupuncture increases circulation; reduces inflammation; promotes balance of the nervous system; can be used to ‘turn down’ the fight-or-flight sympathetic nervous system and upregulate the rest-and-digest parasympathetic nervous system; causes the release of neurotransmitters from the brain – some of which are endorphins & enkephalins – the body’s “natural pain-killing” hormones; relieves muscle spasms; stimulates nerves; stimulates the body’s defense systems; as well as numerous other beneficial effects.
IS IT PAINFUL? HOW WILL MY ANIMAL REACT?
Acupuncture is performed with sterilized single-use thin stainless steel needles. There is occasionally a brief moment of sensitivity as the needle penetrates the skin in certain sensitive areas. Once the needles are in place, most animals relax, and may fall asleep during treatment.
IS IT SAFE?
Acupuncture is one of the safest therapies utilized if practiced by a competent acupuncturist. Side effects are rare. Occasionally an animal’s condition may deteriorate temporarily before improving but this phenomenon typically resolves in 24-48 hours. Occasionally a patient may be more sore after an initial treatment, similar to having received a deep massage. Because acupuncture balances the body’s own system of healing and no chemicals are administered, complications rarely, if ever, develop.
WHAT DOES AN APPOINTMENT LOOK LIKE?
Our initial appointment begins with a complete physical exam and review of medical records. The physical exam includes a myofascial exam, which is a gentle hands-on systematic evaluation of soft tissue structures to determine any patterns of strain and/or pain. Patterns of strain/pain can be indicative of the underlying disease or injury. The exam findings and diagnosis are used to guide decision making of needle placement. An initial appointment takes 45 minutes which includes the first treatment. Subsequent appointments are scheduled for 30 minutes. If indicated, one location of therapeutic laser treatment may be used in conjunction with the acupuncture treatments.
HOW OFTEN & HOW LONG DOES ONE TREAT?
Needles may stay in place from 10 seconds to 20 minutes depending upon the condition treated and the method employed. Patients are often treated 1-2 times a week for 4-6 weeks. A positive response is often noticed within the first 4-6 treatments, sometimes earlier, depending upon the condition treated. We recommend a minimum of 4 treatments to evaluate a response to acupuncture. In general, 20% of patients are strong responders, 60% respond, and 20% do not respond to acupuncture.
IS IT REALLY SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN TO WORK?
In many conditions, especially those listed above, there are scientific studies which demonstrate a benefit from acupuncture. Dr. Lyons can provide references to journal articles related to your pet’s condition at the initial appointment. She bases her treatment approach on current medical understanding of acupuncture’s efficacy and the physiology and anatomy behind it.
She utilizes neuromuscular anatomy and scientific publications to guide acupuncture point selection and tailor each session individually to your pet.
If you would like to see if your pet can benefit from acupuncture, please schedule an initial appointment with Dr. Lyons. She is available for acupuncture appointments Tuesday – Friday.