Gold bead acupuncture as a treatment for arthritis and other chronic conditions is widely used in America and Continental Europe but less easy to access here in the UK. Common indications are hip and elbow dysplasia, arthritis of stifle, carpus and tarsus as well as several back conditions. It can also be used for other arthritic joints and some non-orthopaedic conditions such as epilepsy and urinary incontinence. It is mostly used in dogs and cats.
This approach, which involves the insertion of tiny gold beads into specifically selected points of the animal’s body, aims to improve quality of life for example by relieving lameness and reducing pain. If we look back in time at the usage of this valued metal in healthcare, gold needles were used in China for thousands of years for indications including joint, muscle and neurological problems. The oldest archaeological findings date back to the tomb of Han Dynasty Prince Liu Sheng 113 BC. 1
Gold bead implants were first used by Grady Young in German Sheperds with hip dysplasia in the same acupuncture points that are used for needling. The technique has stayed the same for this condition and success rates reported vary between 75% 2 and 89%. 3
Gold Bead Acupuncture is usually a straightforward and quick procedure. Once the vet has identified the specific points on the pet, special needles are used to carefully position two or three beads which are then left in place. Unlike traditional acupuncture, where treatments are usually repeated at regular intervals for chronic conditions, once the gold beads are positioned under sedation, the effects can be seen after 1-4 weeks, and the procedure does not need to be repeated.
It is a promising approach for young dogs and doesn’t affect the prognosis for surgical interventions later. It can be used for geriatric patients if they are well enough to be sedated. Even drastic arthritic changes can respond well. Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) is a contraindication and, if there is any doubt, needs ruling out first before considering the treatment.
A thorough diagnosis with recent x-rays is crucial for this approach. Please ask your vet for a referral. If you copy us into your email to them, we can provide them with further information.
X-Ray of before Gold Bead Acupuncture
X-Ray after Gold Bead Acupuncture
For more detailed study over a period of 2 years please see link below:
1. Ramey, D. and Buell, P.D. (2004), A true history of acupuncture. Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies, 9: 269- 273.
2. Durkes IVAS Proceedings, 1974.
3. M.Bartholomé, EFFICACY OF GOLD BEAD ACUPUNCTURE FOR TREATMENT OF CHRONIC PAIN AT HIP, ELBOW, AND SPINE IN DOGS, Masterthesen Qi-University, Florida, 2019.