People are always sceptical of things they don’t understand and whilst there is increasing evidence and explanations as to how acupuncture works there is still a lot we don’t comprehend.
However, acupuncture has been used in healthcare for thousands of years, it is regularly used as a treatment for pain in human medicine and is being utilised in veterinary patients with increasing frequency. To me, the fact that acupuncture has been used for so long and is being used more and more suggests it’s got to be good! Acupuncture is now a widely accepted option for pain relief and there are many postulated mechanisms of action. Some are well understood and proven whilst others remain more theoretical and there is still a lot to work out. It is thought that acupuncture has lots of different effects on the body and hence why there are many ways in which it can work.
If we see something works do we always need to understand why? Sometimes we just have to accept that we don’t understand YET but with more time and research we will come to understand how treatments like acupuncture actually work. We shouldn’t shun these options due to a lack of understanding.
Acupuncture is used frequently in the veterinary world to treat pain, most frequently in older patients with arthritis. In general practice the advice and treatments for these patients is standard and limited. We advise careful management of body weight and exercise regimes until the patient deteriorates enough to warrant the use of anti-inflammatories. Whilst this type of drug has a low incidence of side effects the risks are still there, especially in patients who take them for prolonged periods of time, as is often the case with arthritic patients. Using acupuncture at the appropriate time can delay needing to start a patient on medications or reduce the dose that they require, both of which have the knock-on effect of reducing any side effects experienced from the drugs.
Acupuncture itself is extremely safe, is well tolerated and can reduce the need for medications. What have you got to lose?!