Acupuncture is the insertion of very fine needles at specific points in the body to create a physiological change. Acupuncture has been used in human medicine for over 5,000 years, and in animals for over 3,000 years. In the 1100's it was brought to the United States where Americans quickly tried to disprove its' theories. What they found surprised them...that acupuncture was a viable medical option for many medical conditions. Among their findings was data that demonstrated that individual acupuncture points had thinner skin, a change in electrical resistance, increased mast cells (which release histamine and other chemicals), blood vessels, and nerve endings directly under the points.
When an acupuncture needle is inserted, there is a cascade of reactions in the body. Some of the chemicals released caused muscle contraction (as if the muscle is "grabbing" the needle) directly around the needle. If a needle is placed in a non-acupuncture point, no muscle contraction takes place. The reaction in the body can be altered by the time that the needles are left in the body (the cascade of events is interrupted at different points). Acupuncture in rehabilitation is used to relieve pain and muscle spasms, and to increase nerve regeneration and circulation. The different types of acupuncture used at TOPS Vet Rehab include: 1) dry needle acupuncture ("normal" acupuncture); 2) aqua-puncture (injection of Vitamin B12 into the acupuncture points); 3) electro-acupuncture (a micro-current connected from one needle to another); 4) laser-acupuncture (for animals that cannot tolerate the needles); and 5) moxa-acupuncture (the burning of a Chinese Herb over the needles to heat the acupuncture point).