Spruce Mountain Veterinary Acupuncture. Call 802-368-2244 or click for home.

Information for Veterinarians

Philosophy – Conventional vs. Complementary Medicine

My background of 12 years in conventional medicine before training in veterinary acupuncture gives me a solid appreciation of the potential of conventional medicine to restore and maintain health.  I have not abandoned conventional medicine for “alternative” (more correctly, “complementary”) medicine – although when I do acupuncture, I am practicing what is known as Traditional Chinese Medicine. 

My goal is to work as a team with the client and the primary care veterinarian to achieve the best possible results for the patient.  To this end, I send a brief report after each treatment to the primary care veterinarian so that he/she is always aware of therapy the patient is receiving from me.  At every stage of therapy, I recommend whatever form of medicine will most benefit my patient.  This means referring back to the primary care practitioner for conventional diagnostics and therapy where appropriate.  

In addition, I routinely give talks at hospital staff meetings — whether or not the hospital refers patients to me — to educate staff about acupuncture.  The more veterinary staff know about the potential and the limitations of acupuncture, the more this information will reach those who need it!  Please phone or email if you are interested in this service.

Is Acupuncture Compatible with Conventional Medicine?

Yes, absolutely.  Acupuncture is most valuable when conventional therapy is not achieving the desired results.  Conversely, those conditions most easily treated with conventional medicine (surgical problems, initial infections, etc.) are generally not responsive to acupuncture.  In such cases, the client is advised to seek conventional care.

For example, many patients with chronic DJD remain uncomfortable despite aggressive efforts at pain control using conventional drugs and nutraceuticals.  The addition of acupuncture can usually benefit these patients. 

Another example would be the patient in chronic renal failure that has stabilized with supportive care but remains anorexic.  Acupuncture is often successful in stimulating the appetite and improving the utilization of ingested nutrients.  The same effect is seen in animals that are anorexic while on chemotherapy.

When Is Acupuncture Indicated?

Acupuncture can be used alone or in conjunction with conventional therapy to alleviate pain, speed healing and slow the progression of chronic conditions.

Veterinarians most often refer patients for treatment of musculoskeletal conditions such as DJD and intervertebral disc disease.  However, acupuncture is appropriate in the treatment of numerous other conditions, including:

  • Skin, eye and ear problems (allergic dermatitis, recurrent infections)
  • Feline asthma
  • Cardiac disease (helpful with circulatory function)
  • Digestive problems (IBD, obstipation/megacolon, anorexia)
  • Chronic renal failure, recurrent UTI
  • Urinary and fecal incontinence
  • Chronic liver failure
  • Neurologic problems (neurogenic weakness, epilepsy, vestibular disease)
  • Immunodeficiency (FIV, chemotherapy-induced immune suppression, recurrent infections)
  • Behavior problems (cognitive dysfunction, depression, anxiety, phobias)
  • Endocrine diseases
  • Pre- and post-operative pain management and healing

When conventional diagnostics and/or therapy are needed, acupuncture is not offered as a substitute for appropriate medical care.  Rather, clients are counseled on the value of the full spectrum of medical care (conventional and complementary), encouraged to see their primary care veterinarian for any needed conventional care, then encouraged to follow up with acupuncture as appropriate.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

It has been demonstrated that the placement of acupuncture needles at specific points on the body induces profound biochemical and physiologic effects.  Most acupuncture points have been found to map to the location of arteriole-venule-nerve bundles that emerge through the fascia to lie superficially below the skin.  Stimulation of the nerves at these points has effects at the dorsal horn of the spinal cord, suppressing pain sensations in the affected myotome via local inhibition, as well as inhibiting ascending pain signals via the “gate theory.”  In addition, signals ascending the spinal cord as a result of needling induce the release of beta-endorphin, met-enkephalin, serotonin and Substance P.  The result is a sensation of well-being and suppression of pain.  Further, blood flow is increased in a broad region around needle placement, enhancing healing of deep injuries such as ligament and tendon strains.

An abundance of double-blind, placebo-controlled studies have shown acupuncture to be effective for pain relief.  The National Institutes of Health and World Health Organization recognize acupuncture as an effective form of therapy for a wide range of conditions.  (For example, visit http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/acupuncture.html.)

An Invitation

If you’d like to know more about acupuncture and how it might help your patients, I urge you to find a local acupuncturist with whom you might work (go to www.ivas.org to find a certified veterinary acupuncturist).  Or, contact me by phone or email.  Whether or not you are nearby enough for us to work together, I welcome your interest in knowing more about this valuable tool for helping your patients.