FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: What happens during our first visit?
A. During our initial session, our patient's prior records, diagnoses and x-rays can be reviewed and discussed. A physical exam and history of the patient's problem is essential. Treatment options are discussed and if time allows there may be an initial acupuncture treatment.
Q: How do animals respond to acupuncture?
A. The vast majority of patients accept acupuncture very well. Dogs and cats usually relax and may even get a little sleepy during treatment. Treatments vary in length, frequency and method of stimulation (regular and electro acupuncture for example). Acu-sessions usually last around 20 minutes and depending upon the nature of the condition, may require 4-6 treatments for best results. Usually, dogs & cats will show some improvement within 4-6 treatments, and can be maintained with therapy on a less frequent basis after that. It is usually not possible to correct chronic (long term) problems with only 1 or 2 treatments. We will discuss our expectations and proceed accordingly... Once stabilized, balanced or improved, many dogs & cats with chronic conditions are effectively maintained on just a few to several acupuncture treatments per year. Success can be seen in over 80% of cases depending on the nature, time course and severity of the condition. Our initial meeting may take from 45 to 60 minutes, and subsequent visits usually last from 30 to 60 minutes. Herbs, supplements and/or other holistic therapies can truly help certain conditions and will be recommended if applicable.
Q: How did these therapies start?
A. Acupuncture and herbal medicine (for people and animals) have been practiced in China for thousands of years. Since the late 70's, the study and practice of acupuncture, both for humans and animals, has gained greater understanding and acceptance in the U.S. and abroad. The American Veterinary Medical Association has called acupuncture an integral part of veterinary medicine. Additionally, the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health have officially recognized acupuncture as an effective treatment for many conditions & diseases. There is overwhelming scientific data supporting the efficacy of acupuncture. Since 1960, there have been at least 3425 articles published on the efficacy of acupuncture. For example, in a study entitled "Observations on acupuncture therapy of chronic osteoarthritis in dogs" by Janssens, dogs that were not responding to conventional therapies and for which euthanasia was recommended showed improved mobility and motion with acupuncture treatment. A recent (2005) article in the Wall Street Journal stated, "Acupuncture cuts arthritis pain-- Acupuncture has been found to relieve knee pain and dysfunction caused by osteoarthritis, according to the largest clinical study of the treatment to date..." Rather than just an alternative to regular veterinary medicine, veterinary acupuncture and herbal medicine are complimentary and integrativetherapies.
Q: What types of medications do you use?
A: We do not routinely use conventional drugs for most conditions. Many times there are Chinese herbal remedies for the treatment of conditions where no conventional drugs exist. For instance, there are Chinese Herbs for the treatment of viral infections as well as bacterial infections. Antibiotics can't do that. This is not to say conventional medicines are bad. Many times conventional and alternative remedies are used together.
Q: How often do I have to bring my pet for treatment?
A: There is no rigid set schedule for treatment intervals and this will vary with different conditions treated. Routinely I would treat once weekly until results are observed (usually 2-6 weeks) then start increasing the time interval by double with each return visit until we find how long your pets' condition can go between treatments. The maximum intensity of treatments would be 2-3 times per week in acute severe conditions. On the average you can expect anywhere from 2 months to 4 months between treatments once results have been achieved. The severity of the condition and what the condition is will be determining factors.
Q: On what does it work?
A: There is no exact answer. Acupuncture and herbs can be used for many conditions, but the percentage of success will vary with the condition being treated. Common conditions that you can expect fairly high success rates on include things such as immune problems, auto-immune diseases and allergies, hip dysplasia, interverterbral disc disease, veterbral spondylosis, and general arthritis. The list goes on with any musculo-skeletal problem. Most people tend to lump acupuncture into the pain control department but that simply isn't true. Chronic kidney disease and some other organ problems will often respond to complimentary treatments. Other conditions that can respond but many people don't think about are things like epilepsy, infertility and reproductive problems, abnormal emotional problems, lick granulomas and almost any kind of infectious process just to name a few.
Q: Are there any side effects?
A: There are very few side effects associated with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. In a few cases the patient may experience a temporary increase of soreness or stiffness during the 24 hours following the treatment. They will then feel better. The treatment may also make the patient feel tired or sleepy 24 hours. Chinese herbal medicines are very safe but can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as loose stool or reduced appetite. These side effects can be treated by reducing the dosage or by adjusting the formulas. The herbs are free of toxic chemicals and can be mixed with traditional medications.
Q: What are the possible benefits?
A: The ancient Chinese observed that stimulation of specific areas on the body surface could relieve pain and internal discomfort. These "acu-points" were organized into relationships called channels. The insertion of acupuncture needles into specific acupoints along certain channels encourages and assists the body to balance and heal. Acupuncture functions by clearing excesses and tonifying deficiencies in the body to effectively restore and maintain health and happiness.
Chinese herbal medicine has been perfected over countless generations. Formulas of medicinal plants are inexpensive and effective treatments for many veterinary conditions, including some that conventional medicines are unlikely to help. Like acupuncture, Chinese herbs can clear excesses and tonify deficiencies that lead to imbalances, weaknesses and states of disease. Herbal medicine can be a safe and effective pathway to health and harmony. Chinese herbs and herbal medicine, in general, don't work overnight. The best plan is to commit to our chosen herbal treatment plan and be patient while monitoring progress.
Q: What can we treat?
A: Veterinary acupuncture & herbs can effectively treat arthritis, hip/back/neck/elbow pain, intervertebral disc disease, paralysis & other neurological problems, sprains & strains, skin problems, gastrointestinal problems, allergies, some cases of organ failure and cancer, feline asthma, chronic illnesses and more. Success can be seen in over 80% of patients who have completed their acupuncture sessions, depending on the severity, nature, and time course of the condition. In many cases, veterinary acupuncture & herbs can help where conventional veterinary medicine and surgery cannot. Veterinary acupuncture & herbs are great preventative and rehabilitation medicine, can be an adjunct to chemo and radiotherapy for cancer, and help in recovery after many types of surgery or injury. By safely and effectively relieving pain, regulating blood pressure, and improving immune function & microcirculation, veterinary acupuncture & herbs can provide multiple benefits to dogs & cats.
Q: What is the scientific basis of acupuncture?
A: How does acupuncture work? We know that it works from thousands of years of experience. Yin and yang and traditional Chinese medical theory can explain it. But what about some "science?" Researchers have conducted scientific double blind studies to prove that it is not a placebo or hypnosis. Recently, researchers at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey used functional magnetic resonance imaging to prove that acupuncture decreased certain brain activity in human volunteers experiencing pain. The decreased brain waves corresponded to lowered pain perception in the volunteers. Huey-Jen Lee, their chief neuro-radiologist stated, "Western doctors have been reluctant to use acupuncture because they did not know why it was effective. Now we are learning more about the physical response created by acupuncture." Without a doubt, modern scientists have uncovered overwhelming scientific evidence that acupuncture works for many types of pain and disease. One only needs to tap the surface of readily available literature to encounter an exhaustive collection of scientific studies proving the efficacy of acupuncture.
So, how does it work?
Acupoints are tiny areas on the skin that contain relatively concentrated levels of nerve endings, lymphatics, and blood vessels. Acupoints can be readily identified by their lower electrical resistance, and are usually located in small palpable depressions detectable by trained acupuncturists. Stimulation from needling an acupoint initiates a complex cascade of events that have been studied, researched and grouped into Western theories that attempt to explain how acupuncture works.
Many theories have been proposed to explain the proven effects of acupuncture. It may be easiest to break the most plausible proposals into three summarized categories:
1) neurological 2) neuroendocrine and 3) locally mediated.
1) Neurological: Pain perception is altered through acupuncture's effects on specific nerve fibers. The "gate theory" proposes that acupuncture at acupoints stimulatesperipheral nerves, which sequentially turn off specific nerve fibers in the centralnervous system to effectively cease the transmission of pain impulses and modulate disease. This is way more complex than it sounds. This theory is probably responsible for some of the effects of acupuncture but on the basis of several studies, cannot stand alone to account for all of the known effects.
2) Neuroendocrine: Neurotransmitters such as beta-endorphin, met-enkephalin, serotonin, and Substance P modulate the effects of acupuncture, resulting in physiologic effects on the body. The key to this theory is the proposal that structures other than nerves are responsible for some of acupuncture's effects. Studies have shown that veins and cerebral spinal fluid carry neurotransmitters and hormones that mediate effects such as pain control. Increasing white blood cell levels is a known effect of acupuncture that probably involves both neuroendocrine transmitters and the nervous system.
3) Local Mediation: Due to the concentration of nerve endings, certain cells and vessels at acupoints, a relatively large integrated response is created when acupoints are needled. This response launches an elaborate cascade of enzymatic, chemical and vasoactive changes that play a role in the proven results of acupuncture.
In summary, it seems that there are structures involved in carrying the effects of acupuncture. It would seem, as well, that are messages being delivered creating balance, health and pain relief.