Frequently Asked Questions:
Is acupuncture safe? Is acupuncture painful for my animal?
Yes, acupuncture is safe. It is one of the safest therapies utilized if practiced by a competent certified acupuncturist. It is performed with thin, sterile, stainless steel needles. Side effects and complications are rare. For most animals, needle insertion is virtually painless. Many animals become very relaxed and even look sedated. As with anything, there are exceptions and acupuncture may not be tolerated by some animals, but this is rare.
OK, it’s safe? What are some conditions acupuncture could potentially help? Is it the “cure all” method of treatment?
Acupuncture is mainly indicated for functional problems such as those that involve pain, inflammation, muscle spasms, arthritis and paralysis. Acupuncture can be a good alternative for chronic conditions that often do not respond well to conventional veterinary medicine. In small animals this could be arthritis, atopy, lick granulomas, acute pain and swelling following surgery, and a variety of gastrointestinal and respiratory disorders. In horses, acupuncture can be useful in treating musculoskeletal problems such as back pain and the performance limiting-subtle lameness, mild cases of recurrent colic, heaves, reproductive problems and the soreness associated with being a top-level athlete. Acupuncture will not cure everything, and it may not be the best treatment for a particular problem. It is important for the animal (large or small) to have a complete and thorough examination and diagnostic evaluation before acupuncture therapy is considered and initiated. Acupuncture should not take the place of good western medicine.
How does acupuncture work?
A healthy body is in a state of homeostasis or ‘balance’. Illness and/or injury cause the body to become unbalanced, and acupuncture strives to bring the body back into balance. A majority of acupuncture points have been found to be located at sites rich in blood vessels and nerves. Since nerves innervate every organ in the body, we have a way of “modulating” the body by ultimately affecting the central nervous system. This in turn activates the parasympathetic and sympathetic systems which affect all major physiologic systems such as the gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, hormonal and cardiovascular systems and help return the body to a balanced state. Acupuncture increases circulation, causes a release of many neurochemicals, some of which are endorphins (the body’s “natural pain-killing” hormones), relieves muscle spasms and stimulates nerves.
How long do acupuncture treatments last and how often are they performed?
The length and frequency of acupuncture treatments depends on the condition the patient is being treated for at that time. Most treatments last no longer than 30 minutes after the exam has been completed and a plan for treatment has been made. Dry-needling and electrical stimulation are two methods that may be utilized during the acupuncture treatment sessions. Typically, a dog or cat is treated once a week and a positive response is observed after the first to third treatments. A simple acute problem, such as a sprain, may require only one treatment, while a chronic condition may require 3-6 treatments to obtain a maximum response. Maintenance treatments can be tapered off, but the interval is dependent upon the condition being treated and the animal. Horses typically respond well after the first treatment. Often a second treatment will provide the maximum benefit. Horses with joint arthritis may need 2-4, or more, treatments per year to help alleviate pain. Acupuncture may be used as needed or once a month for maintenance and relaxation if you find it helps your pet.
How do I set-up an appointment for my animal to receive an acupuncture treatment?
Dr. Nyomi Galow-Kersh will be performing all acupuncture services at ISU College of Veterinary Medicine. If you are a referring DVM and would like to discuss acupuncture for a particular case, please call Dr. Galow to discuss the case prior to sending it to ISU. If you are a client and are interested in acupuncture please ask to speak to Dr. Galow and she will be glad to discuss your pet’s needs and your goals.
Please call for current acupuncture fees.