Basics of acupuncture

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Acupuncture is now established as a physical therapy which interacts which the patient’s body and brain in ways that can be demonstrated experimentally and clinically. Acupuncture has effects locally, segmentally, heterosegmentally and generally (humeral and brain effects). The main brain effect of manual acupuncture (i.e. without electrical stimulation of the needles) is on the limbic system, which is the main system influencing emotion. This is one explanation of why owners of animals who have received acupuncture often describe them as "happier" and perhaps "picking up a toy for the first time in ages”. Acupuncture makes the patient feel better about the problem from which it is suffering; they are less concerned about the pain and, therefore, stress and suffering are reduced. This is not all acupuncture does, but it is an important effect and should be evaluated in clinical studies and in clinical practice. Acupuncture is not a difficult technique to learn. The skill comes in examining the patient for the ‘targets’ of acupuncture; deciding whether to use needles; where to put them; which needles to use; and what to do with them once inserted. The techniques learned enhance the chronic pain examination and are rewarding for patient, owner and clinician.

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