How Does Electroacupuncture (EA) Help in Treating Pain?

electroacupuncture device used in physiotherapy clinics

Electroacupuncture is a type of acupuncture that sends a small electric current between pairs of acupuncture needles in order to stimulate acupoints in the body. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, this practice can augment the use of regular acupuncture to restore health and well-being, and is particularly good for treating pain.

According to Acupuncture Today, a trade journal for acupuncturists:

“Electroacupuncture 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. Electroacupuncture uses two needles at a 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.

According to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, illness is caused when chi does not flow properly throughout the body. Acupuncturists determine whether chi is weak, stagnant or otherwise out of balance, which indicates the points to be stimulated. Electroacupuncture is considered to be especially useful for conditions in which there is an accumulation of chi, such as in chronic pain syndromes, or in cases where the chi is difficult to stimulate.”

This treatment method is particularly beneficial for chronic pain, with or without referred pain, as well as for some resistant myofascial syndromes. I will generally combine the stimulated acupuncture points with trigger points and A-shi points confirmed by palpation.

I generally use this form of treatment once the client is accustomed to needling and/or I would like to assess whether we can achieve a faster treatment response than just using needles alone. It is not painful, since the client is in control of the intensity of the current and uses a stimulation that is comfortable and acceptable for them.

For more information about electroacupuncture, please read the complete article.

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