Acupuncture has been used in both man and animals for many thousands of years. It involves the insertion of fine needles into specific points on the body, and is well tolerated by most animals, even cats. Some even appear to make positive associations with the trip to the vet for acupuncture.
At St Boniface, we practise the ‘Western’ approach to acupuncture i.e according to the principles of neurophysiology. We have found it to be particularly useful for pain management in a variety of situations but especially in our older arthritic patients.
From a simplistic view, it is thought that acupuncture exerts its effect in several ways:-
- Systemic release of endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers)
- Needles placed directly into tender areas of muscle produce relaxation and thus reduce the pain associated with spasm
- Needles placed near the source of pain promote the release of other chemicals including some that can reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
At the present time, acupuncture in animals in the UK may only be carried out by a veterinary surgeon or a registered veterinary nurse working under their direct supervision.