Frequently Asked Questions About Acupuncture

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is the ancient Chinese practice of inserting fine needles through the skin surface to stimulate specific points along energy meridians within the body.  Acupuncture can be used to relieve pain, inflammation, emotional imbalances, and treat some internal medicine based diseases. 

How long has acupuncture been used?

Acupuncture has been part of Traditional Chinese Medicine for over 3,000 years but has more recently been utilized in Western veterinary practices over the past 10-20 years.  The original energy meridians used today on animals have been adapted by those identified in human models. 

What types of treatments are available?

1.  Dry needle:  this is the most traditional form of treatment that uses very small, sterile, single use needles inserted at acupuncture points and left in place for 10-30 minutes.

 2.  Aquapuncture:  this technique uses a small gauge hypodermic needle to inject either saline or vitamin B12 directly into an acupuncture point.  The pressure of the fluid will stimulate the specific acupuncture point for a number of hours. 

3.  Electroacupuncture:  needles used in the “dry needle” technique are attached to an electrical unit and a low level current is applied to stimulate both the acupuncture points and the associated energy meridians.  The effects of electroacupuncture can last days to even weeks.         

How many needles are used for treatments? 

The number of needles varies depending upon the patient and the underlying disease(s) being treated.  The average number is between 10-20.

How long does the treatment last? 

The length of treatment also depends upon the patient and the underlying disease(s) being treated.  Older or sick patients tend to have shorter treatment times compared to young, healthy patients.  The average treatment duration lasts between 15 and 30 minutes.  

Does the treatment hurt? 

Your pet does not need to be sedated to receive acupuncture treatments.  The typical needles used in acupuncture are very thin.  Your pet may experience a muscle twitch or occasional discomfort when the needle is inserted, but this should quickly subside.  Most cats and dogs are not bothered by acupuncture.  Many patients fall asleep during treatment!

How does acupuncture work? 

Traditional Chinese Medicine aims treatment at restoring balance within the body.  There are a number of energy channels found throughout the body that control all of the organ systems.  Each acupuncture point is associated with an energy channel and by stimulating that point you can either increase or decrease the energy flow which can promote balance. 

What is “Qi” (pronounced chee)? 

The circulating life force in all living beings.  It is the basis of traditional Chinese medical beliefs.  

What is integrative medicine? 

A relatively new term that combines the practices of both Conventional (Western) medicine and the philosophies of various cultures.  It emphasizes individualistic care, whole body (physical and mental) health, wellness, and prevention.