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Acupuncture for pain control (Proceedings)

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Aug 01, 2008

Pain control is what acupuncture does best. It is also the easiest problem to treat with acupuncture. More research has been done in the US on pain control with acupuncture than with any other use of it.

How it works:

• Segmental analgesia: gate theory
• Endogenous opioids: met- and leu-enkephalin in brain, beta endorphin in brain and CSF, dynorphin and enkephalins in spinal cord increase with acupuncture. Analgesia blocked by naloxone.
• Serotonin: also released with acupuncture. Block serotonin, endorphins increase and vice versa. With acupuncture, block one or the other, moderate decrease in analgesia. Block both, profound decrease in analgesia.
• Anticholinergics decrease acupuncture analgesia. Parasympathomimetics increase it.

Results for acupuncture are most unambiguous when treating pain. It usually requires no special knowledge of Chinese theory, although that knowledge can be useful for fine-tuning a treatment, and can be useful when dogs do not respond well to conventional treatment. Almost half of my practice consists of treating both dogs and cats for pain (and the occasional rabbit). Some research suggests that you can even get some analgesia from acupuncture needles when inserted in a non-acupuncture point.

Pain doesn't always match the x-rays: especially cats: back pain, tail pain. Cats and dogs: neck and shoulder pain with lumbar spondylosis and osteoarthritis of the hip

Pain doesn't always match the lesions—lick granuloma
Pain doesn't always match the history—"seizures" in a cat

Points to use:

• Local and distal
• Temporary points (tail)
• Ah shi points
• Surround the dragon

Local points:

• Hip: GB29 and 30, BL 54
• Stifle: eyes of knee, BL 40, GB34
• Shoulder: LI 15, TH 14. small intestine10
• Spine: T-L problems: BL 21 and 23

L-S problems: Bai hui

Use the bladder points that correspond to spondylosis or tender points. May have to use points above or below an area if it is especially tender

Distal points:

• everything: BL60 (aspirin point)
• Back: BL 11, BL40, ST 36
• Hip: BL 40, ST 36
• Stifle: BL 23, BL 60, GB 30
• Shoulder: LI11

General points: BL 11: bone and wind

• GV 14: exterior symptoms
• ST 36: tonifies deficiencies, helps qi and blood
• LI 11 wind-heat
• Pain: LI 11, ST 36, CV6, BL 60 (aspirin point)
• Damp: SP6 and SP9

Temporary points (especially in the tail):

If you are dealing with an area that has no points close by (like the tail), you may need to needle areas close to the problem. Cats who pull out their hair in a small circle on the tail may be experiencing tail pain. If you get no results with standard points, find depressions around the point and needle those (if possible).

Ah shi points: use with caution. You may get better results if you Surround The Dragon, or use Dr. Tamm's method of the corresponding area on the opposite diagonal limb.

x-rays: older cats—assume they have back and hip pain, and maybe neck and shoulder pain until proven otherwise, even when radiographs are negative. If they are destroying 1 area of their tail, surround the dragon

lick granuloma of carpus or hock: always treat the shoulder and hips. A lick granuloma of the left hock, present for 7 years in a doberman, was cleared up by acupuncture of the hips. A lick granuloma of a different doberman that had turned into squamous cell carcinoma reverted to a very non-cancerous small lesion after acupuncture of the hips.

"Seizures" in cats:

Oriental shorthair, m/n. On phenobarbital, no change in frequency or duration.

Description of seizures: gave a cry, threw himself on his back, shaking. No paddling. No apparent loss of consciousness. No x-ray changes. Very tense neck and shoulders. Acupuncture included neck, shoulders, back, hips. "Seizures" subsided and eventually stopped.

Maine Coon, "vibrational nystagmus" since a kitten. Had stopped jumping up. Radiographs revealed LS spondylosis. With treatment, she started jumping on counters again, and the lifetime nystagmus went away.