By LuAnn McLain
Research on acupuncture has been conducted for many years yet much of acupuncture's success as a treatment is still not well understood within Western views of physiology.
Acupuncture is defined in a pamphlet put out by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS) as the insertion of needles into specific points on the body to cause a desried healing effect. This technique has been used for at least 3000 years in veterinary practice as well as in human medicine.
Very little or no pain is associated with acupuncture for animals, especially the smaller animals, and often the treatments have a very calming effect on the animals. Humans report sometimes experiencing sensations such as tingling, cramps or numbness and it is possible animals experience these, too.
IVAS reports that acupuncture can assist the body to heal itself by such things as stimulate nerves, increase blood circulation, relieve nuscle spasm, and cause the release of hormones, such as endorphins (one of the body's pain control chemicals) and cortisol (a natural steroid).
The University of California, Los Angeles, was the sight of a study on acupunture on humans between 1973 and 1980. Opposition from the medical profession was strong in the beginning.
It was not very long, though, before there were waiting lists to get an appointment up to six weeks long. As word of mouth passed from satisfied individuals to their friends and relatives, the interest and demand increased.
The following is what that study determined to be effective use of acupuncture: pain relief for various orthopedic, obstetric and surgical procedures; treatment of chronic pain; sensorineural hearing loss; compulsive disorders such as over eating and tobacco and drug addiction; and bronchial asthma.
Other studies have found it to be helpful in treatment of arthritis in both people and dogs.
According to IVAS, in small animals things like arithritis and vertbral disc pathology, skin problems (such as lick granuloma), respiratory problems, gastrointestinal problems and selected reproductive problems may be treated with acupuncture.
In larger animals things like sore backs, downer cow syndrome, facial nerve paralysis, allergic dermatitis, heaves and "Bleeders", non-surgical colic, and reproductive disorders can be treated.
It is recommended that those seeking treatment by acupuncture first get a good diagnosis of the problem. It is then important to seek a professional who has established a good reputation for success in treating that particular ailment.
A veterinarian who has also been certified in acupuncture should be sought for those seeking such help. The Inernational Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS) was established in 1974. A course is offered for licensed veterinarians which includes a 40-hour internship. When successfully completed, the veterinarian can then be certified. Another organization, American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture, also certifies veterinarians in accupuncture.
The IVAS and AAVA serve as a resource center to veterinarians and works toward the goal of integrating acupuncture into the practice of Western veterinary science. AAVA also offers links to other related sites of interest to nonmembers regarding health.
A listing of certified veterinarians is provided by both organizations. Among that listing you will find four who reside in Montana. They are: Barbara Calm,DVM, of Kila, MT, (406) 755-8214; Roderick S. Meier, DVM, Sweetgrass, MT (406)335-2142; and Sonya L. Whiteley, DVM, Laurel, MT (406)628-4683, and Clifford Manley, DVM of Hamilton, MT (406)363-4579.
Dr. Whiteley finds in her practice that pain management is what she sees most often. Arthritis and displaysia are among the things she treats with acupuncture.
Dr. Calm reports having most success with epilepsy and seizure disorders, arthritis and pain management, some cases of kidney failure, and behavior problems. In treating epilepsy she has been able to help animals that are on maximum doses of control medications and still can't stop having seizures. Often they are able to greatly reduce medication or even stop it as a result of the acupuncture therapy.
Dr. Meier requires a "Western style" work up and diagnosis prior to treating an animal. He is employed by the government and restricts his "side" practice to acupuncture. Therefore, testing must be done prior to visiting him. He has worked on horses extensively and now also works on smaller companion pets.
Dr. Manley's practice concentrates on large animals. He says he probably does most of his work on horses. All four of these veterinarians will work closely with the animal's veterinarian. Each of them provides information to other veterinarians in their geographical areas, encouraging referrals.
Have a great week with your companion critters. If you would like to write to Pawsitively Pets, please send your letter to PO Box 1731, Havre, MT 59501.