Disorders of the nervous system can result in pain (e.g. spinal disc disease) and/or dysfunction (e.g. nerve paralysis, epilepsy). Fortunately, acupuncture has scientifically proven efficacy in treating pain and can also improve the functioning of nerves, helping to restore function. Steroids are often used to relieve pain, but their effects can be short-lasting. Studies show that acupuncture can provide long-lasting pain relief even if animals have only experienced short-term relief with steroids, and without the potentially dangerous side effects of steroids. The pain-relieving effects of acupuncture make it useful in treatment of intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), Wobbler syndrome, cauda equina syndrome (lumbosacral disease), traumatic injuries and more.
Less is known about how acupuncture can improve nerve function, but research shows that it improves the functioning of damaged nerves and promotes regrowth of nerve cells, making it useful in any condition in which nerves have been damaged. These conditions include intervertebral disc disease, injuries of the head or back, fibrocartilaginous embolism, Wobbler syndrome and more.
In treatment of epilepsy, acupuncture (and/or Chinese herbal medicine) is not generally a substitute for conventional medications such as phenobarbital. Addition of acupuncture to an epileptic dog or cat's treatment program can, however, generally increase the timespan between seizures and reduce their severity, improving quality of life for both patient and owner.