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     According to ancient Chinese medical philosophy, disease is the result of an imbalance of energy in the body.  Acupuncture is a deep healing modality which uses the insertion of hair-fine needles to stimulate specific points along the body's energy fields. This allows energy in the body to find its proper balance thereby producing the desired healing effect. Acupuncture has been used in veterinary practice in China for at least 3,000 years to treat many ailments. It is now used all over the world. Modern veterinary acupuncturists use solid needles, hypodermic needles, bleeding needles, electricity, heat, massage, and low powered lasers to stimulate acupuncture points.

     Acupuncture is indicated mainly for functional problems such as those that involve paralysis, allergies, and pain. In small animals the following medical conditions may benefit from acupuncture: arthritis, asthma, vertebral disc disease, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, post-op orthopedic surgeries, lick granulomas, chronic vomiting or diarrhea, epilepsy, diabetes, liver disease, Cushing's disease, and some skin disorders. Acupuncture helps to promote healing by stimulating nerves, increasing blood circulation, relieving muscle spasms, and causing the release of hormones such as endorphins. Many of acupuncture's physiological effects have been studied and others are still left to be discovered.

     Many pet owners worry that acupuncture may be painful to their pet. For small animals, the insertion of acupuncture needles is virtually painless. Most animals become very relaxed and may even become sleepy during treatment. Some sensation is assumed to occur such as tingles, numbness, or cramps. Acupuncture is one of the safest forms of medical treatment when it is administered by a properly trained veterinarian. Side effects are rare but they do occur. An animal's condition may seem worse for 24-48 hours after treatment. These effects are an indication that some physiological changes are developing, and they are most often followed by improvement.

     The length and frequency of acupuncture treatments depends on the condition of the patient and the method of stimulation that is used by the veterinarian. A simple acute problem, such as a sprain, may require only one treatment. Chronic diseases may require several or even several dozen treatments. When multiple treatments are needed they usually begin intensively and are tapered to maximum efficiency. Patients often start with 1-3 treatments per week for 4-6 weeks. A positive response is usually seen after the first week. Once a maximum positive response is achieved, treatments are tapered off so that the greatest amount of symptom-free time elapses between them. Many animals with chronic disease can taper off to 2-4 treatments per year.

     There are two important criteria you should look for in choosing a veterinary acupuncturist. The person should be a licensed veterinarian. Secondly, the veterinarian should have formal training in the practice of acupuncture on small animals and be certified by IVAS (International Veterinary Acupuncture Society). In most countries and states veterinary acupuncture is considered a surgical procedure that only a licensed veterinarian may legally administer. The AVMA considers veterinary acupuncture a valid modality within the practice of veterinary medicine and surgery, but extensive educational programs should be undertaken before a veterinarian is considered competent to practice acupuncture.
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