Acupuncture involves stimulation of specific points on the body called “acupoints” that produces various physiological responses.
How does acupuncture work?
- Releases endogenous opioids and neurotransmitters which blocks pain.
- Stimulates the immune system through release of white blood cells and activation of T lymphocytes.
- Stimulates blood pressure receptors which can increase or decrease blood pressure.
Figure —The stimulation of an acupuncture point in the body using certain techniques (e.g., needling) can induce physiological responses, such as the release of endogenous opioids and stimulation of the immune system. These physiological changes are the basis of clinical therapy. (WBC=white blood cell; T cell=T lymphocyte) 1
Acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles in specific locations on the body.
Aquapuncture is the injection of a sterile solution like B12, Traumeel injection, water or saline into an acupoint –it provides a constant stimulation from the pressure of the liquid injected into the acupoint.
Hemo-acupuncture is the insertion of a needle into an acupoint associated with a blood vessel to release a few drops of blood and thereby release heat (inflammation)
Acupressure is the application of pressure for 5-10 minutes over an acupoint.
Pneumo-acupuncture is the injection of a small air bubble into an acupoint for constant pressure and thereby continued stimulation. This is used for atrophy of the hip or shoulder muscles.
Acupoints and meridians: There are 361 acupoints in the human body with 14 channels connecting these, called meridians.
Types of Acupuncture
Dry Needle – most commonly used technique utilizing sterile,
disposable needles of varying lengths and widths.
Moxibustion – Moxibustion works by warming the acupoint and produces physiological responses.
Moxa sticks are crushed and dried leaves of the herb Artemisia argyi rolled into a cigar shape.
The herb is burned and then placed over an acupoint without touching the skin or singeing the hair.
Electro-acupuncture – wires are attached to the needles and connected to an electroacupuncture machine.
When this is turned on, it controls the frequency and amplitude delivered to each acupoint and provides a
more effective stimulation.
Applications of Acupuncture:
Geriatric Medicine – Acupuncture is used to manage pain in geriatric patients thereby avoiding the use of pain killers with side effects. It is also used to treat mobility issues associated with arthritis or neurologic weakness. It is also a way to effectively manage pain in geriatric patients that are too weak to undergo conventional therapy or surgery.
Sports Medicine – Acpuncture is used to treat a variety of tendon, ligament and muscle injuries by increasing blood flow which promotes healing. Pain Management: Acupuncture stimulation produces an analgesic effect, generally called acupuncture analgesia.14 The release of β-endorphins may be one of the pathways in which acupuncture relieves pain.
Sedation – Last but not least, acupuncture can be highly effective in sedating and calming some patients. I have even used acupuncture sedation to remove skin growths in a 15 year old dog. She continued to sleep for half an hour after the procedure.
Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of various painful conditions in animals. These conditions include Painful cervical, thoracolumbar, and lumbosacral conditions from disk herniations, trauma and degenerative joint disease Chronic lameness Degenerative joint diseases Colic
Precautions should be used in the use of acupuncture in weak and debilitated patients, Pregnant animals and animals with cancer.