In 2010 I decided to enrol in a course to learn how to do veterinary acupuncture. At the time my friends and colleagues were a little amazed. I love science, I love facts and figures, this just wasn’t a subject area that most people saw me being interested in. The reason I wanted to learn, was because of my experience with acupuncture in the past. As a child my brother had chronic leg pain, numerous specialist did little to alleviate this and then out of desperation my mum took him to an acupuncturist. Within 2 months he was better. I hear the sceptics out there saying ‘Well that could have happened anyway’. Let’s face it, it could have, yet a year of specialists and waiting did nothing. I don’t know if acupuncture definitely cured him but over the years, as I saw animals in chronic pain, I couldn’t help thinking of my big brother.
Acupuncture is a healthcare system based on ancient principles. It looks at pain and illness as a sign that the body is out of equilibrium and the aim of treatment is to restore the balance of the body. Ultra-fine needles are inserted into specific acupuncture points, dependent on the clinical condition, which triggers the body’s natural healing response. As I write this, I still struggle with the concept that the process behind acupuncture is little understood. That being said, over the years I have treated a number of animals and do I think acupuncture works? – Yes. Do I understand why it works? -No.
I have seen animals fall asleep when I put the needles in, I have seen animals that have responded in good to great ways after the course of treatment. Acupuncture does not always work but when it does, it’s great.
My most successful case to date, was a lovely old Labrador that was really struggling with osteoarthritis pain in multiple joints. There was no pain relief or anti-inflammatory left for him to try and a colleague sent him to me for acupuncture. The owners were at a point that they were considering euthanasia but the dog responded beyond anyone’s expectations and went on to live a further 8 months.
The great thing about acupuncture is that it is so safe and does no harm. I have in the past mainly treated dogs and cats with osteoarthritis and other chronic pain conditions. I am happy to discuss its use in different animals and for different conditions. Please feel free to contact me in the practice if you have a pet or a condition that you wish to discuss.
For those animals that it has helped, I feel it has been invaluable and I am happy to continue to be a practicing acupuncturist. To my big brother, I may not understand exactly why, but I’m just glad you got better.
Kirsty Marshall BVMS MRVCS