We are happy to announce that we are beginning to offer acupuncture therapy at Mercer Island Veterinary Clinic for selected patients. Dr. Mulvaney is training with one of the top Veterinary Acupuncturists in the nation at Colorado State University, Dr. Narda Robinson. This is the only EVIDENCE BASED veterinary acupuncture certification training center in the United States and is the premier training program for Veterinarians who wish to add acupuncture treatment for the benefit of their patients. Dr. Mulvaney will graduate from her training program in late April and is excited to be able to bring this new treatment modality to our facility.

What can acupuncture be used to treat?
There is excellent evidence that acupuncture can be effective in treating several common veterinary disorders, including: Arthritis, Post-Surgical Pain, Chronic (long standing) pain, Back or neck pain from Intervertebral Disc Disease, Inflammatory bowel disease, Neurologic dysfunction, and Urination/defecation disorders.

What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture involves the placement of tiny, sterile needles into precise locations in order to stimulate reparative processes. Acupuncture is a medical therapy with a long history, dating back to the ancient Chinese in the 2nd century BC. More recently, it has been thoroughly researched and adopted by conventional medical practitioners in both human and veterinary medicine, as its physiologic mechanisms and effectiveness have been elucidated. The National Institute of Health endorsed the study and continued use of acupuncture therapy in a 1997 consensus statement.

Do acupuncture needles hurt?
Most pets enjoy their acupuncture immensely, and come to look forward to their visits for the relief that they provide. They may even fall asleep! Some humans report a slight pinch as the needle enters the skin, but immediately almost forget that the needle is there.

How does acupuncture work?
As medical research has become more interested in acupuncture therapy, scientific studies have revealed a physiologic mechanism of action, known as “neuromodulation,” which may be more simply translated as “talking to nerves.” As a result of this interface with the nervous system, acupuncture reduces pain and restores the ability or desire to move, facilitates recovery from injury or illness, and bolsters the ability to regain and maintain homeostasis (the body’s natural state of balance and health). The acupuncture needles interact with the connective tissues, vessels, nerves, and local signaling molecules to have both local and systemic effects. These effects include pain relief, release of endorphins, normalizing of overactive “fight or flight” reflexes, and modulation of the immune system. The mechanisms are enormously complex, and acupuncture researchers in the clinical and basic science fields are working furiously to define them more clearly.

In the past, acupuncture was traditionally understood to relate to the flow of “qi” or “energy” throughout the body. Stimulation of acupuncture points was thought to correct imbalances in the flow of this qi through channels known as meridians. Today, we have a much better understanding of this effective therapeutic technique and how it helps our patients.

What is an acupuncture point?
Modern research has revealed acupuncture points are fascinating and complex areas of the body. Often, they are located where nerves converge, split, or become more superficial between layers of muscle and connective tissue. Others are associated with neurovascular bundles, neuromuscular attachments, or mixed function nerves. We will also use acupuncture to treat what are known as “myofascial trigger points” or areas of hyperirritated, painful, and tight muscles. What is important to remember is that regardless of the “system” used to understand acupuncture’s mechanisms, the points remain the same, carried down by thousands of years of use in medical therapy. However, we hope to make acupuncture therapy as targeted and effective as possible by selecting our points based on physiological and anatomical knowledge.

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