What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the insertion of very fine sterile needles (0.16 to 0.3mm diameter) into specific points along the body. The stimulation of these points causes local muscle relaxation, release of natural pain-relieving hormones such as serotonin and endorphins, increased local circulation, and blockage of pain signals in the body.
According to Chinese medicine, the needling of meridians or pathways eliminates the blockage of chi or the energy life force and allows the body to achieve balance.
What conditions respond to acupuncture?
(More than you think!)
Acupuncture is an effective treatment option for many conditions because of the multiple actions elicited in the body with needle insertion. Conditions that Dr. Jester has treated in her patients include the following:
anorexia (decreased appetite)
constipation (including megacolon in cats)
cruciate ligament injury (partial tears)
immune support (ie. cancer)
incontinence (fecal and urinary)
inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
kidney disease/kidney failure
neurologic disease (disc problems, embolisms, vestibular dysfunction and degenerative myelopathy)
trigger points (muscle knots)
How many treatments will my pet need?
Treatment frequency depends upon the underlying condition(s) being addressed. As a general rule, most patients should receive the first two to three treatments in one to two week intervals. Patients with neurologic deficits (ex. dragging toes without awareness, fecal/urinary incontinence) ideally receive treatment one to two times weekly. Arthritic patients typically need maintenance acupuncture every three to six weeks.
In the early stages of acupuncture therapy, a shorter time interval between treatments will be recommended in order for your companion animal to receive maximum benefit. When the individual's response to treatment has reached a plateau the sessions are less frequent with the goal of maintaining comfort/mobility.
Some patients have a very strong and immediate response to treatment while others show greater response after three to four sessions when the acupuncture has had a cumulative effect.
Typically when an animal is presented to Dr. Jester for a specific issue, she will find other areas of the body that also need work. For example, a dog or cat with hip arthritis will usually have some degree of back pain from the secondary effects of moving the back leg abnormally. All of these areas will be addressed in the treatment sessions as the patient allows.
How will my pet react to the needles?
Reaction to the needling is variable with some patients turning to acknowledge insertion or move away from the stimulus and others acting as if nothing has happened. The majority of animals are very accepting of the treatment and become relaxed 15-20 minutes after needling has started and the body has released calming endorphins.
What do the treatment sessions involve?
The sessions are very thorough and last between 60-80 minutes. Dr. Jester will check your pet for sensitive areas that need treatment and will also discuss your pet's history to determine other areas that should receive needles. She will address as many health issues/conditions as possible during the session as determined by your pet's comfortability and cooperativity.
During the session you will likely see Dr. Jester place wires on the needles (electrical stimulation) to give additional pain relieving benefit as well as a longer response to the treatment. The device sends a mild electrical pulse to the needles and is usually very comfortable to the pet, allowing her/him to become even more relaxed. On rare occasion a pet is sensitive to the stimulation and it is discontinued.