Lee’s Summit Animal Hospital’s own Dr. Austin Dicken is a certified veterinary acupuncturist. He completed his training through Medical Acupuncture For Veterinarians and is available to assist your pets. His skill set is another tool to provide comprehensive methods to alleviate pain and ailments in your pet.
What is Veterinary Medical Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a therapeutic method of inserting very small needles in a non-painful way to help treat many different disorders by stimulating the nervous system. Modern Western Medical Acupuncture is derived from the Eastern method – but uses a scientific, evidence-based approach.
An eastern practitioner thinks about the flow of ‘energy’ or ‘Qi’ through the body, whereas a western practitioner thinks about neurologic pathways, the effect on the sympathetic / parasympathetic nervous system, and so on.
A typical initial appointment involves a full body therapeutic massage and ‘myofascial palpation’ – the whole body is examined for tight muscles, evidence of pain and restrictions and massage is incorporated where needed. Once we identify what treatments your animal will need to help them feel better we can start the acupuncture treatment, and even incorporate therapeutic laser.
Follow-up appointments are less expensive and are shorter once we have a treatment plan (see below). Typical treatment plans are 1-2 times a week for 6-8 weeks. Not all dogs like acupuncture, but most dogs love the experience because it feels good, it’s a relaxed atmosphere and they get a bunch of treats! Cats and exotics can also benefit from acupuncture for the same conditions as in dogs (listed below). The approach is much more dependent on the animal’s acceptance of the technique but many cats find it very relaxing and enjoy the therapy.
What does acupuncture treat?
Acupuncture is used in human medicine and physical therapy as well as in veterinary medicine to treat a variety of illnesses. The most common is chronic pain, such as back pain, but acupuncture can be used for almost any condition. Some conditions that can be treated with acupuncture are:
- Chronic / acute pain including intervertebral disc disease, arthritis, knee/hip pain, sciatica
- Digestive issues, including inflammatory bowel disease and motility problems
- Chronic respiratory irritation, allergies
- Anxiety, stress-related conditions
A common use for acupuncture is for an animal that has a long-term painful condition such as arthritis, and when combined with massage, physical therapy and laser therapy sometimes we can wean off of some of their medications.
What Animals can get Acupuncture?
Dogs, cats, rabbits, chinchillas, rats, lions, tigers bears, oh my! We can perform acupuncture on any animal, even birds and reptiles, all depending on the animal’s acceptance of the technique.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture needles are very small, and the method and place of insertion is intended to stimulate nerve fibers without causing pain. The stimulation helps interrupt signals and ‘modulate’ the nervous system, for example disrupting a cycle of continuous pain that can occur in the spinal cord with a long-term painful condition.
Acupuncture can also utilize long loop reflexes where the actual brainstem and brain are neuromodulated. This has the potential to help with anxiety, to help decrease inflammation, encourage intestinal motility and appetite, and a number of other exciting applications.
Are there side effects?
That’s what is great about acupuncture, there are very few side effects! Often we can wean off of pain medication at least a little bit once acupuncture is started.
Very uncommonly, a dog may be very tired or so worn out that they are a bit wobbly at home afterwards, but they often sleep very well and then are much brighter in the morning. Of course, if something concerns you please seek veterinary care.
Interested in Scheduling an Appointment?
Feel free to call our North Clinic (on Commerce Dr), where we do acupuncture, at 816-554-1870. We can alternatively schedule an appointment on Thursdays at the main clinic (on Market St). We look forward to talking with you about the potential benefits of acupuncture for your furry (or not so furry) friend!