A key component of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture can be traced back more than 5,000 years. Acupuncture aims to treat a range of conditions by targeting specific points in the body. It does so through the application of heat, pressure, or laser, with the most widely recognized method being penetration of the skin by thin needles.
Traditional Eastern and contemporary Western medicines differ on their theories of why acupuncture works. Eastern thought holds that stimulating these acupoints corrects the imbalances of qi, or circulating life force, through channels known as meridians. Western physicians largely dismiss such concepts, but they do believe that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system, and can effectively treat musculoskeletal pain, postoperative pain, and nausea.
In veterinary history, acupuncture charts for horses date around 136 AD. Today, the science has been accepted for more than 30 years as a viable treatment for animals of many different species and sizes. It is even covered by some pet insurance companies in Canada, the U.S., and elsewhere.
Most animals actually enjoy acupuncture or cold laser treatment. When older patients are suffering from arthritis, cold laser or acupuncture can be the best choice, since medications are often not tolerated well. In that case, acupuncture is a perfect fit to help manage their chronic pain. I use cold laser, or low level light therapy, in much the same way that acupuncture is used. The advantage is that there is no need to penetrate the skin with the needle.