Acupuncture is now a widely accepted treatment for pain in human medicine and we are gradually catching up in the veterinary world. It can be used to provide pain relief for dogs, cats and horses (and many other species too).
Pain is one of the most common indications for veterinary acupuncture, most frequently chronic pain associated with arthritis but it can also be used for more acute injuries, muscular sprains and post-operatively as part of rehabilitation. The therapeutic effects of acupuncture occur due to the stimulation of the nervous system, the blocking of pain pathways within the body and also the release of chemicals within the body including endorphins – the body’s natural pain-killers.
Part of the acupuncture consultation will involve a comprehensive physical examination including palpation of skeletal muscle, bones and joints. Spending the extra time on this aspect of the examination allows the patients pain state to be more fully assessed and can lead to the discovery of problems not previously identified.
Pain Relief for Dogs.
Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of lameness in dogs. It involves joint inflammation, cartilage destruction and bony changes. Whilst the condition can’t be cured, a lot can be done to alleviate the symptoms of pain.
Depending on the stage and severity of the arthritis, acupuncture, either alone or in conjunction with orthodox medication can be used for pain relief in dogs and significantly improve their quality of life.There is also a lot of undiagnosed muscle pain in dogs that doesn’t always give obvious symptoms but can affect their general demeanor and willingness to exercise, especially to jump and run. They can become less interactive with their owners. This type of pain is often detected during the thorough acupuncture consultation and can be treated accordingly.
Pain Relief for Cats.
Whilst not always as obvious in the way they demonstrate pain, cats can suffer with pain from many causes just the same as dogs. They can suffer from Osteosrthritis and this is probably still underdiagnosed but is being recognised and treated with increasing frequency. Symptoms that your cat may be suffering from arthritis include a change or reduction in the way they move or a change in posture, changes in behaviour for example a reduction in grooming and/or interaction with owners, aggression or becoming withdrawn They may over-groom at the site of pain. Not all conditions causing pain are suitable for treatment with acupuncture but musculoskeletal pain, neurogenic pain and pain from skin disease are amongst the most responsive.
Pain Relief for Horses.
Acupuncture can be used as a form of pain relief in horses. Musculoskeletal injuries and laminitis are common causes of pain in horses and ponies for which there are many treatment options. Utilising acupuncture on it’s own or to complement other treatments can be very beneficial in the recovery of these animals. Indications of pain in horses can include poor-performance, lameness and other changes in the way they move as well as behavioral changes and loss of appetite.