Traditional Chinese Veterinary Acupuncture
(T.C.V.A.) requires an understanding of the Traditional Chinese view of how the body works and their diagnostic techniques, which at first sight can seem unfamiliar to us. It requires information on the patient’s personality, background, current problems and previous medical history if available, as well as examination.
Disease is caused by imbalances in the body and blockages in the passage of energy ( Qi ) which normally circulates in mapped out channels or meridians. Acupuncture harmonises imbalances and allows the free movement of Qi. In this way the underlying conditions which contribute to the development of ill health or predisposition to injury are corrected. Scars, both physical and emotional, can block the flow of Qi and hence T.C.V.A. can be valuable in managing emotional problems and trauma.
Many points used will overlap with those used in Western acupuncture but some will be in other areas of the body distant to the part being treated. Benefits will generally be broader as is the list of conditions for which it might be indicated.
Western acupuncturists take the view that the effects of acupuncture can be explained using a western understanding of the nervous system. The needles ‘trick’ the body, by sending rapid signals along fast (A delta) nerves that it is under attack. The body’s response is to block pain pathways, release natural painkillers such as endorphins and trigger endogenous healing mechanisms. The needles are so fine that they don’t actually cause any tissue damage which is why the slower (C fibre) nerves are not stimulated and the unpleasant effects we associate with pain are avoided. Western acupuncture is now widely practised as the techniques can be learned in a few days and the explanation of how it works is appealing to the scientific community. It is used mainly for pain management, particularly back pain, dental pain and arthritis. The points treated tend to be anatomically situated close to the problem areas being treated, or innervated by the same segment of the spinal cord.
This is a technique which can be used with either Western or TCVA whereby the needles are placed in pairs and a small voltage applied across the pair. This boosts the power of the acupuncture and is sometimes used if a strong response is needed e.g., in spinal disc prolapse with paralysis, although I tend to find laser acupuncture equally effective and more pleasant for the patient.
Laser Therapy has become popular in veterinary medicine over the last decade, mainly using static powerful lasers and targeting just a small treatment area of injured tissue. It is sometimes called Cold Laser Therapy or most accurately PHOTOBIOMODULATION ( PBM).
Laser Acupuncture is an advanced adaptation of laser therapy which uses the principles of acupuncture to channel the effects of laser deeper into the tissue than the light would be expected to penetrate. This means lower power and inherently safer lasers can be used. In addition the laser stimulates acupuncture points, triggering similar effects to a needle. This means the benefits of laser can be achieved in combination with those of acupuncture resulting in impressive treatment outcomes.
My Acupuncture Journey
I started my acupuncture journey by completing a foundation course in Western Acupuncture. There had been a lot of focus on acupuncture in the media and I was casually interested. I had no idea that it would eventually takeover my whole career. On this foundation course, we practised on each other as it is illegal in the U.K. to practise on animals just for the purpose of study. I had personally been troubled with neck and shoulder problems that had been very resistant to any of the treatments I had previously tried but were miraculously improved by a few needles placed by a total amateur following a ‘cook-book’. I realised that acupuncture could be an exceptionally powerful tool for certain complaints, not just providing the fringe benefit I had imagined. This foundation course provided an excellent starting point and Western Acupuncture gives great results in the conditions mentioned above, (mainly musculoskeletal), but after several years of practising at this level, I realised that some of the effects of acupuncture just cannot be explained by the nervous system model alone. However much we, with our scientific training, might like to think that we understand all the workings of the body, there is still more to learn. I am still a modern vet, with three good medical science degrees and many years of experience behind me, but I decided to train in T.C.V.M. (Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine) which needed a very open mind as it requires such a different approach. I now combine all these techniques with laser acupuncture being the latest chapter.
Focused light of particular wavelengths has a similar effect on acupuncture points to placing needles. After being introduced to P.B.M. for its use in wound healing, I learned that laser might be an alternative to needles in some patients, and decided to try it. Initially I was sceptical that the light could penetrate sufficiently to activate deep acupuncture points in large animals, so I tried it first in cats and rabbits with excellent results. Cats can sometimes be tricky patients with needles, particularly as many are hiding considerable discomfort by later life. Laser opens up acupuncture to even the most fractious feline (well, almost!!). I started to use laser acupuncture in bigger patients and it kept working-in fact it often achieved better results than needling alone and now I rarely use needles. I wanted to learn more, but found there was no one in the U.K. to teach me, so I travelled to the World Association of Laser Therapists conference on a mission to absorb as much information as possible from the representatives there . And I have never looked back……
Or in a Nutshell…
Acupuncture is part of a system of medicine devised by the Chinese over millennia but with substantial modern evidence to back it. Laser acupuncture is a very new development which is only just reaching the United Kingdom. Effective, safe and painless, it can be used in combination with any conventional medical therapy and is extremely powerful. I am very excited to be promoting and developing this technique .