The physiological mechanisms of acupuncture analgesia and its applications within veterinary practice
Saturday, July 2, 2022
The practice of acupuncture as a method of pain relief is becoming increasingly popular in veterinary medicine. With recent advances in neuroimaging and molecular biology studies we now have measurable results to aid with our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of acupuncture-induced analgesia. Multiple body regions can be accessed through individual acupuncture points via the peripheral nervous system and its connection to the central nervous system. Acupuncture's analgesic effects can be conceptually divided into local, segmental (spinal), and suprasegmental (brain) effects and involve the enhanced release of analgesic endogenous substances (e.g. opioids) and reducing the release of pain-inducing substances such as inflammatory cytokines. Electroacupuncture is proving to be the most effective acupuncture delivery method through providing a more potent stimulus to the acupuncture point leading to greater substance release. The purpose of this review article is to summarise some of the mechanisms behind acupuncture analgesia and to highlight how many veterinary patients could benefit from its use.
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