Use of Acupuncture in the Veterinary setting at Poolesville Veterinary Clinic
Ashley G. Young, DVM
Acupuncture was originally a Traditional Chinese Medicine re-visited in the 1940’s where “barefoot doctors” were trained in Chinese medicine and basic Western Medicine which were used together for general health care across Asia.
Today we research the neurophysiologic basis of acupuncture in what we describe as evidence based medicine in conjunction with the traditional Chinese medicine.
Acupuncture point locations as mapped out thousands of years ago and considered to be meridians of energy or ‘Qi’ have actually been found to be specific anatomical locations.
- Where nerve bundles penetrate the fascia
- Close proximity to major blood vessels that surround the small nerve bundles
- Motor points where nerves enter or exit the muscle
- Trigger points, more commonly known as knots in your muscles.
‘Pain in myofascial pain syndrome develops as a result of the activation of C afferent (group IV) nociceptors at trigger point sites in muscle…the pain in this disorder may be abolished by means of stimulating cutaneous and subcutaneous A delta nerve fibers with dry needles, for it is known that this procedure blocks the C afferent input to the spinal cord, both from skin and from muscle by activating enkephalinergic inhibitory interneurons situated at the boundary between lamina I and II of the dorsal horn (Bowsher 1990)’ Filshie & White, Medical Acupuncture: A Western Scientific Approach. Churchill Livingstone, London 1998.
Needle insertion creates a neurovascular reaction releasing substance P and histamine. This stimulates both ascending response on the CNS to create an overall pain relief and descending axon reflexes such as warmth and redness at the insertion site.
Local effects include capillary dilation and immune activation, tissue repair activation and local/supraspinal control to reduce inflammation and normalize circulation.
Systemic effect releases natural pain reducers such as met-enkephalin, B-endorphin and dynorphins as well as increased serotonin levels.
Acupuncture controls pain by release of endogenous opioids, improves circulation via vasodilation and inhibits pain by blocking the C fibers and A delta fibers.
Side effects are rare due to the sterile thin stainless steel needles being used.
Uses for Acupuncture at Poolesville Veterinary clinic include most musculoskeletal and neurologic diseases such as arthritis, IVDD, nerve injuries/paralysis, back pain, lameness, muscle and tendon injuries. Other illnesses and diseases have had acupuncture used for treatment throughout the world including skin disease, urinary tract disorders, gastrointestinal disease, respiratory disorders, ocular disorders, and reproductive problems.
Key to acupuncture success is an accurate western medicine diagnosis followed by treatment using both integrative (acupuncture, laser therapy, etc) and western. Most of my patients are currently taking pharmaceuticals as well as utilizing acupuncture. The acupuncture is able to lessen the quantity of drugs required while using an integrative therapy which has minimal side effects.