Integrative Medicine and Acupuncture
Tina M. Wolfe DVM, MS, DACVS-SA, cVMA
Dr. Wolfe is now accepting referrals* for acupuncture and related techniques. Dr. Wolfe is a board-certified small animal surgeon with additional certification in medical acupuncture, including training in techniques using massage, trigger point release, electroacupuncture and laser therapy. With this added expertise, she can provide both surgical and non-surgical options for many orthopedic and spinal conditions. Dr. Wolfe also has a special interest in pain management and rehabilitation.
How does acupuncture work? Acupuncture and related therapies work by interacting with the complex pathways that exist between peripheral nerves, blood vessels, connective tissue, and the central nervous system. By stimulating specific sites along these pathways (acupuncture points), we can regulate the signals coming and going between specific areas to achieve our desired results. Pain relieving effects are related to the release of natural pain-relieving and relaxing chemicals including endorphins. Acupuncture can also improve circulation, reduce inflammation and modulate the nervous system, meaning that it can help to down-regulate or restore homeostasis to an overly active sympathetic nervous system.
What conditions could benefit from acupuncture and related therapies? Medical acupuncture is a technique that can be used for treatment of a wide variety of conditions. While acupuncture and related techniques will not always replace traditional medical or surgical treatments, they can provide additional, non-pharmacologic or non-surgical options for some patients. This integrative medicine approach can be helpful for a wide range of conditions including: anxiety, nausea, acute or chronic pain, as well as many orthopedic, neurologic, and other systemic conditions.
Are there any side effects? Relaxation and sedation are the most common, though some pets may have mild, temporary soreness for 24-36 hours after acupuncture. Needle breakage or other complications are extremely rare. Please discuss any concerns or unusual symptoms with our office.
How many treatments will my pet need?
- This varies depending on the condition, type of treatment, and our goals. Some pets show improvement after a single session, though others may need a few treatments to respond.
- Initial treatments occur 1-2 times per week with reduction in frequency over time.
How long does each treatment take?
- Integrative medicine consultations last 45-60 minutes and include a detailed history and thorough examination of the entire body including bones, joints, muscles and nerves.
- Treatment sessions are ~30 minutes.
- Recheck examinations will be scheduled as necessary for your pet’s condition.
What types of treatment are performed? Treatments are customized to the individual patient. Some examples include:
- Dry needling is the traditional usage of fine needles to stimulate acupuncture points.
- Electroacupuncture: Also known as percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (PENS), this is a more intense stimulation provided by a small electrical current attached to acupuncture needles. This can be used to provide pain relieving effects more rapidly or for a longer duration, depending on the setting. This is very similar to TENS, though its effects tend to be longer lasting.
- Acupressure, massage, laser or light therapy can also be used to provide less intense stimulation which may be desirable or better tolerated for some patients or conditions.
- Trigger point therapy includes the use of needles, massage, and electroacupuncture to alleviate tight myofascial (muscle & connective tissue) bands or knots that can contribute to pain, nerve compression, and dysfunction in strained tissues.
- Rehabilitation: Therapeutic exercises and other rehab modalities may be prescribed, if indicated.
*Patients with an existing veterinarian will be referred back to their office for all conditions or concerns unrelated to their acupuncture, orthopedic, or surgical conditions. As a courtesy to your existing veterinary relationship, these patients cannot be provided general practice care. However, Dr. Wolfe will work in conjunction with your veterinarian and communicate with them regularly regarding your pet’s condition, treatment, and progress.