What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is based on an ancient Chinese medical practice that involved the discovery of stimulating certain points on the body resulted in relief from pain and improvements in body functions. These points were treated by simple pressure, or heat, or with needles, and today also by laser and electrical stimulation.

How does it work?

Certain areas of the body frequently become sensitive from injury or illness, and the Chinese were the first to map these points and associate them with those conditions. Moreover, they found they could treat these conditions by stimulating these tender points along with points lying a distance away along the same channel. Channels are related to the fascial paths and connect all regions from head to toe and from external to internal. The ancients viewed the point as a communication port connecting the exterior to interior to be used to influence the flow of blood and Qi. Qi has many definitions and includes “air”, “nutrients from food”, “organ’s products” and everything in addition to blood that needs to circulate to sustain life. The nervous system responds to the treatment and huge strides have been made in recent years to the understanding of the complicated reflexes involved in the periphery and centrally in the brain. The balance between Yin and Yang is a perfect analogy of the balance required between the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system for good health. The details are extensive and not possible to put in few words.

How old is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese form of medicine whose records date back to BC, but is difficult to be certain of its true beginning. Acupuncture spread to other parts of Asia and eventually Europe. Like herbal and plant medicine, it has continued to evolve, develop in many different forms, be refined, and studied with the benefits of modern technology to understand more of the physiology.

Does Acupuncture work as well as other medicines?

Acupuncture can be used in some instances in place of conventional medicines or along side them with some exceptions. It is best used in cases where conventional treatment is less effective or has undesirable side effects. Some types of pain are not relieved by modern medicine without risking unhealthy side effects and acupuncture can relieve these pains more effectively. The risks from acupuncture are extremely low in comparison when practiced by medically competent acupuncturists. However, like any other form of medicine acupuncture is not able to cure every condition.

What conditions can be treated with acupuncture?

Chronic pain – from any cause. Muscle (more correctly Myofascial) pain is common in competition animals as they get older and responds very well to acupuncture as is pain from internal organs referred to the body exterior.

Internal organ functional diseases, such as:

  • Respiratory- e.g. chronic cough, infection
  • Digestive – e.g. recurrent colic, Irritable Bowel Disease, diarrhoea
  • Genito-urinary – e.g. chronic infections, incontinence, infertility
  • Nervous system- e.g. emotional disturbance, excess stress response, weakness, paralysis, nerve injury, spinal disk disease, sciatica).

Does it hurt?

Acupuncture needles are very thin and generally do not inflict pain on the points being treated. Some feel more pain than others, while others do not feel the needle being inserted at all. Areas that are already painful may be more sensitive to the insertion of a needle but there are acupuncture techniques to minimize any discomfort. Laser and heat (moxa) treatment is an option for the severe needle sensitive individual.

What is the difference between using a needle and a laser?

The use of needles in acupuncture is more common than the use of a laser, and is a deeper and stronger stimulation. Needles can reach the deep acupuncture points more effectively than a laser that can be used on superficial points on the face, ear and lower limbs. A combination of the two treatments is often used to optimise the treatment. Laser and acupressure is more gentle for very young, very elderly, and over stressed. I use a combination of acu-therapies and manual therapy (TuiNa or TTouch massage, and motioning or stretching). I also teach clients to do a certain amount of support work with stretches or massage and recommend complimentary physical therapists in certain cases.

How many sessions are needed?

The number of sessions required depends on the condition and the level of response in the animal. A strong responder shows big improvements within days of the 1st treatment; an average responder takes 2-3 treatments and a weak responder 5-8, and some just do not respond. A recent problem may only need 1-3 sessions. Chronic problems often need 2-5 weekly treatments before progressively increasing the gap between treatments. Then it is a matter of occasional top up acupuncture based on the patient’s signs; this may be 1-3 months apart. Some competition animals are treated 3-5 days prior to competing as an aid for better performance, and a few days after competing if there is any concern over the impact of strenuous work and transport.

What is the cost of treatment?

Small animals brought in for treatment are charged at £20-25 for the initial consult, and £55 for the treatment; follow-up treatments are £55. Home visits are made and charged according to distance and start at £20.

How do I arrange a treatment?

My acupuncture service is by referral. I can be contacted by email with an enquiry to start. You would then have to ask your vet for permission to have your animal treated by acupuncture by me so that I can contact your vet for the relevant history. It is important that I know what has been investigated, the outcome of diagnostic tests, and current medications used as I rely on this to guide the most suitable acupuncture treatment.