Acupuncture has been used for centuries in Asia to treat a variety of ailments. In some versions of this ancient practice, small needles are placed in the skin with the goal of manipulating Qi (or Chi). Recently, researchers have begun to investigate these techniques using scientific methods and tools more commonly associated with what is considered 'Western Medicine'. What we're learning is fascinating! And it has lead to the development of techniques that are referred to as Medical Acupuncture.
Over thousands of years of observation, what began as a technique for bloodletting was refined into the modern version of acupuncture. When one looks closely at the places that are used for 'needling', you can see why these points were chosen. There are often blood vessels and nerves traveling through the area just beneath the skin!
Medical Acupuncture attempts to combine evidence-based 'western' medicine or scientific techniques with the art of acupuncture. This school of thought doesn't subscribe to the concept of Qi for developing a treatment plan. Rather, it uses the neuroanatomical structures and relationships that are present at the sites to functionally interact with the nervous system to affect other organs and body systems.
We now know that the appropriate use of acupuncture needles can make major changes in the spinal cord's intrinsic 'wiring' or 'programming'. We can actually use these needles to 'wind down' the spinal cord in situations related to the perception of chronic pain. What's more, by reinforcing the signalling pathways in the spinal cord with acupuncture, there are patients that have suffered spinal cord injuries that can gain significant benefits. And, in the case of peripheral nerve diseases, we're seeing similar results! In the end, medical acupuncture is based on ancient techniques that are very safe, use no drugs, and have virtually no side-effects.
Dr. King recently completed a rigorous certification process in Medical Acupuncture for Veterinarians, and we've added it to our armament of tools here at LOVN to help those patients that might have limited or no other options. If you have questions about acupuncture or how we practice acupuncture for your pets, please feel free to contact us. We're very excited to be able to offer these techniques to your pets and eager to discuss what we're learning and how it's helping those we might not have been able to help otherwise!