Veterinary Acupuncture

Short Answer

Veterinary Acupuncture involves the strategic placement of needles to alter muscle tone and regional blood flow.

veterinary Acupuncture - Duncan receiving acupunture and laser therapy

Duncan is being treated primarily for hind end muscle pain, but also as a way to help with the side effects of his brain tumour.

It can be used to treat many conditions but is especially useful for relaxing painful or spasmed muscles, for accelerating tissue healing, and for improving the strength of a weakened limb. It works symbiotically with both  Animal Chiropractic  and Rehabilitation Therapy .

In Dr Lane’s practice, veterinary acupuncture is especially useful for:
  • Muscle pain or spasm – the cause of many lameness issues
  • Muscle weakness, including weakness due to spinal cord disease
  • Inflammatory conditions – trauma, arthritis

Long Answer

Eastern vs Western medical philosophies

Many patients become relaxed after the needles are places

Eastern, or traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), views health and disease very differently from western medicine (WM). For instance, WM tends to have a linear perspective – that event A triggers B triggers C triggers D; whereas TCM sees more circular relationships – event A triggers B triggers A triggers B etc. TCM makes no distinction between physical and emotional or mental health, whereas WM views these issues separately; WM views health as the absence of clinical disease, whereas TCM has more stringent criterion.

Each perspective has its strengths – WM has brought us a wealth of useful drugs and surgical procedures, whereas TCM provides acupuncture, herbal and nutrition therapy to treat conditions that frequently frustrate western practitioners.

One of the strengths of TCM, and of acupuncture in particular, is its usefulness in reducing pain and balancing muscle tension and strength.

TCM relies heavily on metaphors and comes with a vocabulary that is often confusing to the western ear. Terms like heat, damp, and wood all have meaning to an eastern practitioner, just as words like discospondylitis or osteochondrosis mean something to a western practitioner.

TCM often recognizes subtle clinical signs that mean nothing to a western practitioner. For instance, if I’m treating a pet that has muscle pain but I find out it also has a history of bloodshot eyes, from a TCM perspective that will affect my therapeutic plan. From a WM perspective, the two conditions are not related.

How does Acupuncture work from a western perspective?

Textbooks are written on the topic of how acupuncture works, and a detailed discussion goes well beyond the purview of this website. There is a lot we know for sure, a lot that we strongly suspect based on circumstantial evidence, and much that is speculation at this time.

What we know for sure:
  • Acupuncture points have anatomic and physiologic qualities that distinguish them from non-acupuncture points.
  • Acupuncture affects peripheral nerves, as well as the brain and spinal cord.
  • Acupuncture reduces pain through a number of mechanisms, including the stimulation of neurotransmitters in the brain and spinal cord (endorphins, serotonin, catecholamines etc.), through the regulation of blood flow (nitric oxide) and inflammatory mediators (histamines, bradykinen, prostaglandins, leukotrienes etc.), and possibly through bioelectric mechanisms
  • Acupuncture accelerates healing though its affects regional blood flow and on the inflammatory process
  • Acupuncture reduces muscle spasm through the release of bradykinen
  • Acupuncture points affect internal organs through the viscerosomatic reflex


veterinary Acupuncture - Ulu is receiving electro-acupuncture (EAP) to treat her trigeminal neuritis

Ulu is receiving electro-acupuncture (EAP) to treat her trigeminal neuritis. EAP involves running electricity between acupuncture points in order to stimulate damaged nerves, and also for pain control.

In short, through its effects on neural transmitters, blood flow and inflammatory mediators, acupuncture is a useful tool for reducing pain, accelerating healing, and improving muscle strength and neural health.

How does Acupuncture work from an eastern perspective)?

Central to the TCM philosophy is the notion that energy or Qi (prounounced “chi”) flows through the body. Imbalances, blockages or accumulations of Qi trigger disease. Acupuncture releases, strengthens, and balances Qi to restore health.