What Is Arthritis?

Discover the signs of pet arthritis and the many natural treatments available.

By Joan Hustace Walker | Posted: Tue Oct 23 00:00:00 PDT 2001

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Acupuncture has been credited with increasing an animal's recuperative powers, boosting immunity, and improving mental health. Conventional medicine has determined that when needles are inserted into the acupuncture points, neurotransmitters and neurohormones are stimulated, resulting in the release of the body's natural pain relievers and anti-inflammatory substances. In addition to providing an arthritic pet with instant pain relief, acupuncture can also release muscle spasms around arthritic joints, which increases microcirculation in the joint capsule and joint, and slows the degenerative process of cartilage destruction. Boosting the animal's immune system is also important in slowing down the degeneration of joint cartilage, particularly in those pets suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

Skilled acupuncturists are adept with their needles, and pet owners need not worry about their pets experiencing anything more than mild discomfort during treatment. Unlike an injection, which uses a larger, hollow needle to allow the passage of fluid, an acupuncture needle is very thin and solid. Human patients report very slight sensations as the needle is inserted, with some patients indicating no feeling at all. Amazingly, most pet owners say that their pets are quite calm through the treatments. No anesthesia is necessary for the procedure.

More than 30 states and the District of Columbia license acupuncturists, and 11 more states are drafting or introducing legislation to license acupuncturists as well, reports the National Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance. Acupuncture is believed to be one of the fastest growing forms of health care in the U.S. It is recognized by the AVMA as "an integral part of veterinary medicine" and is regarded as a "medical procedure under state veterinary practice acts," according to the "Guidelines for Alternative and Complementary Veterinary Medicine," published by the AVMA.

Adapted with permission of BowTie Press, a division of Bowtie, Inc., Irvine, Calif., from "The Essential Guide to Natural Pet Care For Dogs: Arthritis" by Joan Hustace Walker (BowTie Press, 1999, $6.95).

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