Electro-acupuncture is an acupuncture technique that, comparatively speaking, has only recently come into use. Some scholars believe electro-acupuncture was first used by physicians in France and Italy as far back as the early 1800s. Others attribute its discovery to Japanese scientists in the 1940s who were interested in making bone fractures heal more quickly. Still others claim that electro-acupuncture wasn’t really developed until 1958, when acupuncturists in China began experimenting with it as a form of pain relief. Whatever the case, electro-acupuncture is an increasingly popular form of treatment, and is used by practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine for a wide array of conditions.
Electro-cupuncture is quite similar to traditional acupuncture in that the same points are stimulated during treatment. As with traditional acupuncture, needles are inserted on specific points along the body. The needles are then attached to a device that generates continuous electric pulses using small clips. These devices are used to adjust the frequency and intensity of the impulse being delivered, depending on the condition being treated. Electro-acupuncture uses two needles at time so that the impulses can pass from one needle to the other. Several pairs of needles can be stimulated simultaneously, usually for no more than 30 minutes at a time.
The Benefits of Electro-Acupuncture
While electro-acupuncture may be used as a component of almost all acupuncture treatments, it is has garnered especially good results regarding the treatment of neurological diseases, chronic pain, spasms, and paralysis. Also, holistic sports medicine commonly uses electro-acupuncture for injuries. When combined with acupressure (the stimulation of acupuncture points with the use of the practitioner’s hands and gentle massage, instead of needles), electro-acupuncture has been proven to promote the flow of qi and blood, relieve pain, and warm the muscles, removing blood stasis (a blockage, or poor circulation).
Electro-acupuncture is contraindicated for patients who are pregnant, experience seizures or have a history of heart disease, strokes, or epilepsy. Patients with pacemakers should not receive electro-acupuncture. The procedure is not to be performed on a patient’s throat or head, nor should it be done directly over the heart. Patients usually do not feel the electric current and the side effects, at most, can be minor bruising or bleeding.
According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, illness is caused when qi does not flow properly throughout the body. Acupuncturists determine whether qi is weak, stagnant or otherwise out of balance, which indicates the points to be stimulated. Electro-acupuncture is considered to be especially useful for conditions in which there is an accumulation of qi, such as in chronic pain syndromes or in cases where the qi is difficult to stimulate.
A recent study involving participants suffering from mild to modern carpal tunnel syndrome measured the impact of electro-acupuncture treatment over a period of 17 weeks. “Those who underwent electro-acupuncture treatment reported less disability and less severe symptoms, plus more function and more dexterity,” according to an article by the Chicago Tribune. Though there wasn’t a significant decrease in pain, for individuals suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome electro-acupuncture is a less expensive and welcomes option— compared to invasive procedures like surgery.
Another study published by Stem Cells Journals, titled “Electro-acupuncture Promotes Central Nervous System-Dependent Release of Mesenchymal Stem Cells” found that electro acupuncture stimulation increased hypothalamic functional connectivity in human subjects and triggered the release of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) into the bloodstream. These cells then multiply and become various types of tissues, demonstrating electro-acupuncture’s ability to treat injury-induced pain and tissue regeneration.
As the body of scientific studies grows, more and more health practitioners will turn to licensed acupuncturists to provide effective and quality treatment.
For more information, Please call Bluemoon Acupuncture and Wellness Center (520)505-1442