Our vet Nicki Bell trained as an acupuncturist in 2008. She has been using the technique in cats, dogs and rabbits since then treating a variety of conditions.
What is it?
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine that has been used for thousands of years in China and other parts of Asia. It has been used in Western medicine in humans for some time but only recently in veterinary medicine. The concepts of Western and Chinese medicine differ but ultimately they both attempt to treat the same conditions. Chinese acupuncture is based on a more holistic approach which aims to restore balance within the body. The Western approach is more mechanical in that it is used for a specific disease or disorder and focuses on treating the damaged area.
We use acupuncture as a stand alone therapy and in combination with other treatments to help manage a variety of conditions.
How does it work?
Acupuncture is mostly commonly used to help manage painful conditions through its actions on the central nervous system. It activates the body’s own pain control system to deal with potentially painful stimuli within the nervous system. Very fine sterile acupuncture needles are used at specific points on the body to stimulate small nerve fibres which then activate the release of substances called neurotransmitters that block pain ‘messages’. The best known of these neurotransmitters are the endorphins.
When needling we cause very minor trauma to the areas we choose. This stimulates local inflammation similar to the response in the brain and body that would occur by actual damage, without that damage having to occur. In turn it produces a local effect to improve blood supply to that area, muscle and tissue relaxation. This helps to both relieve pain and promote healing. This last effect makes it very useful in aiding wound healing.