Acupuncture is the insertion of needles into specific points of the body to induce healing.
Acupuncture has been practiced in China for over 4000 years. Its use in animals goes back at least 2000 years. Acupuncture is a therapeutic technique of what the west has defined as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In animal medicine we use the term Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM). Acupuncture is to TCVM what surgery is to western medicine. In modern western medicine the application of surgery is the result of a thorough diagnosis and analysis of a case. Similarly, the application of acupuncture is the result of a thorough TCVM diagnosis.
Simply put, TCVM is based on the concept of Qi. Qi [pronounced chee] is the life force that makes cells and organs work. Qi flows through every part of the body, moving the machinery. Just like rain that wets and permeates the soil but finds paths and forms streams running downhill, Qi finds channels in the body where it runs with higher intensity. The channels are also known as meridians. The organs depend on Qi for their functioning and their functioning affects the Qi that flows to other organs. Each organ is connected to a pair of channels which feed into other pairs of channels connected to another organ.
Thus, in TCVM the organism is seen as a network of organs interconnected by channels with Qi circulating through. In the healthy organism Qi flows unobstructedly; all organs are working in tandem, taking from and passing sufficient Qi to other organs, to maintain the balance. However, because of environmental forces (food, climate, social interactions, microbes, etc), an organ or a channel may be affected and thrown off balance; eventually all of the organs and channels will be affected.
A TCVM diagnosis is a definition of the type of malfunction that is occurring, and of the primary organs involved. Even when looking at a problem that may seem entirely local, such as a damaged spinal disc or an arthritic joint, one must detect the type of malfunction in the primary channels affected, as well as in the related organ and any other organs and channels that may be affected.
The TCVM diagnosis defines the point formula used, i.e. the combination of places where the needles are placed. Age and medical history are also essential for a successful and safe treatment because certain points or point formulas best suit certain cases and should be avoided in others (some points cannot be used in pregnant animals; some point formulas must be avoided in older patients that may have cardiac problems). The effect of other drugs that the animal is taking must also be considered, because drugs affect organs selectively in a way determined by the patient’s constitution (genetic makeup).
Acupuncture is a complex and powerful method of medicine that is extremely effective in animals when used with the foundations of TCVM. Acupuncture is used all over the world, either by itself or in conjunction with standard medicine, to treat a wide variety of maladies in animals. Acupuncture is indicated mainly for problems that involve paralysis, non infectious inflammations, urinary problems and pain.
Primary indications are:
- Musculoskeletal problems such as arthritis or vertebral disk pathology, paralysis,
- Chronic Diarrhea (Irritable Bowel)
- Neurological deficits (paralysis, hind end weakness, urinary incontinence etc)
- Geriatric Issues (Acupuncture helps to stabilize aging animals, helping to control senile behaviour)
- Prevention of Injury (Acupuncture prevents injuries in working and sporting dogs)