Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine and Acupuncture 

What is TCVM? 

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine has been practiced for thousands of years.  It recognizes that the health of the body depends on keeping the body's flow of Qi (pronounced "chee") in proper balance.  

Qi is the body's energy or life force.  It flows through channels in the body, called meridians.  There is a normal cycle to the flow of Qi that maintains the body in a healthy state.  If there is an imbalance or blockage to the flow of Qi, the result is a disease state or pain.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a method used by TCVM to influence the flow of Qi.  According to Eastern Medicine, by stimulating the acupoints along the meridians, one can rebalance the flow of chi, and return the body to a healthy state.

Other methods used in TCVM include Chinese Herbal Medicine, Food Therapy, and Tui-na (a Chinese method of medical manipulation, similar to massage and chiropractic medicine).

How Does Acupuncture Work?

In Western Medicine, we find that acupoints are located in areas where there is a high density of nerve endings, blood vessels, lymphatics and mast cells.  Stimulating these areas has been proven to alter blood flow and the release of neurotransmitters, such as endorphins and serotonin.  Thus, acupuncture can influence the circulatory system, nervous system, endocrine system and immune system.  Scientific studies support the use of acupuncture for pain relief, and as more studies are conducted, the mechanism of this ancient therapy will be better understood.

How are Acupoints Stimulated?

Acupuncture needles are very thin, sterile, stainless-steel needles that are disposed of after each use.  They are solid, not hollow like hypodermic needles.  Insertion of a needle into an acupoint is called dry needling.  Other methods of stimulation inculde: moxabustion - burning incense over the needle to warm the acupoint, aquapuncture - injecting a small amount of fluid into the acupoint, electroacupuncture - sending small pulses of electricity into the needles,
laser - using high intesity laser to penetrate the tissue and stimulate the acupoint without needles.  

Is Acupuncture Painful?

Insertion of needles in the acupuncture points is vitually painless.  Sometimes the local muscles may quiver when the needle is inserted.  Patients may feel nothing at all, to a slight tingle or a feeling of heaviness while the needles are in place.  Infact, most animals become very relaxed during treatments and may even fall asleep.  However, some sensation may still be felt, and if an animal seems uncomfortable, the needles can be removed or repositioned.  For very animals that resist needles, laser acupuncture can be extremely benificial. 

When to Expect Results

After treatments, some animals may be tired or sleepy, and in some cases, their condition may even seem to worsen for 1-2 days.  However, these effects indicate that the body is going through a physiologic change, and is most often followed by overall improvement in the condition.

Treatments generally last 20-60 minutes.  The number of treatments depends on what condition your animal is being treated for, how severe it is, and how long it has been affecting them.  An acute condition may be cleared up with a single treatment, whereas a chronic condition may take 3 to 10 treatments, to start seeing positive results.  Some conditions may require regular treatments, but the number of treatments will be tapered to effect.

Is Acupuncture Safe?

Acupuncture is a very safe medical prodedure when administered by a qualified professional.  Very few side effects have been found in clinical cases.  Acupuncture is a method of helping the body heal itself.

Who is Qualified to Perform Veterinary Acupuncture?

Only licensed veterinarians are eligible to practice acupuncture in most states, including Pennsylvania.  It is highly recommended that the veterinarian complete an intensive training program and receive certification prior to treating your pet.