Acupuncture is a form of treatment developed some three or four thousand years ago in China. It involves the insertion of very fine needles into specific points of the body to produce physiological responses, which result in a healing effect.
The ancient Chinese said that illness was a state of imbalance or blockage in the normal energy flows of the body and that acupuncture, acting on the channels of energy flow, restored them to normal.
Modern research indicates that pain control is achieved by opioid peptide pain-modulating mechanisms induced by activation of A-delta fibres stimulated by the acupuncture needle and this is the theory on which modern western medicine based acupuncture principals are based.
Additionally it may help any chronic pain which is not being controlled adequately by conventional treatment or when side effects are a problem. Acupuncture treatment involves the insertion of a varying number of needles which are left in place for approximately 10-20 minutes.
The average number of treatments is about four and if improvement follows it will usually be apparent by then. Some problems may need as many as six treatments before showing signs of improvement but generally if there is no improvement at all after four treatments it is unlikely that acupuncture will have an effect.
Treatments are usually once a week to begin with, then at longer intervals according to progress. Chronic conditions may subsequently require booster treatments at varying intervals. Animals usually accept needles fairly well and will often relax and some even fall asleep during the treatment!
There is very little risk from acupuncture treatment when in expert hands. In some strong reactors temporary aggravation is quickly followed by substantial relief.
Acupuncture is a useful form of therapy especially for conditions that do not respond well to orthodox means. It is not a cure-all but should be considered with other established methods of treatment. It can fill a gap but will never replace conventional therapy but can at times be beneficial when other treatments have failed.
It has the advantage that undesirable side effects of some drug therapy can be avoided. Acupuncture may be an alternative to premature euthanasia for some animals.
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