We are now offering medical acupuncture and laser therapy as new forms of medical treatment at VCA Heritage Animal Hospital. We have long been frustrated by the inability of conventional medicine to adequately treat many medical conditions that result in chronic pain and chronic inflammation. Often, the medications used for these conditions cause unacceptable or rarely, dangerous side effects. The advantages of acupuncture and laser therapy are that they are side effect free and can be used safely even in very sick or elderly pets. Both acupuncture and laser therapy have been in use in human and veterinary medicine for many years and have accumulated a large body of peer-reviewed medical literature that objectively demonstrates safety and efficacy. Although some controversy remains, we feel that it is time that these therapies were offered to our patients.
Acupuncture has been practiced for over 3000 years, but only in the last few years has basic research been done to establish the neurological and physiologic basis for its effects. There is now a basic understanding of medical acupuncture in terms of western, conventional medicine. We are not adherents of traditional Chinese medicine and use acupuncture within a framework of conventional medicine as an additional therapeutic tool. Acupuncture can be used as a primary form of treatment or as an adjunct to other medicines and treatments. Acupuncture is widely used for pain management secondary to osteoarthritis and is also used for a variety of neurologic conditions such as intervertebral disc disease, urinary incontinence and inflammation, gastrointestinal motility issues (vomiting and diarrhea) and other medical problems as well. Acupuncture has very few risks and the needles are well tolerated by most patients. A number of treatments are usually required for full benefit, so treatments are scheduled as a series. Some chronic problems may require periodic maintenance treatment. Dr. Nancy Rhodes has recently become certified as an acupuncture practitioner, one of very few in our area.
Laser therapy is a much newer form of medical treatment than acupuncture with a similar but more narrow range of clinical applications. Laser is effective at controlling pain, reducing inflammation, improving blood supply and minimizing scarring that results from inflammation. It is used primarily on problems involving the skin and musculoskeletal structures that are relatively close (within two inches) to the skin surfaces, such as arthritis, dermatitis and trauma. Because laser is essentially a form of energy that is delivered to a body cell's energy pathways, effect is limited by overlying tissue absorbing laser energy intended for the target tissue. Laser therapy is extremely safe, virtually side effect free and causes no patient discomfort. Like acupuncture, several treatments may be necessary to achieve control and long term problems may require longer treatment periods.
If you have questions about these new forms of treatment, give us a call. Dr. Rhodes is our go-to person for acupuncture.