What is electro-acupuncture?
Electro-acupuncture is the stimulation of acupuncture points with electric current, using needles. The therapeutic goal is to promote the circulation of Qi and stimulate healing.
From a Western medicine perspective, electro-acupuncture works by stimulating muscles, nerves, circulation of essential substances, nutrient delivery to damaged tissues, and by removing inflammatory chemicals (Van Laethem, 2018).
How is it different from manual acupuncture?
With manual acupuncture, stimulation is brief and intermittent, only low frequency is possible, and strong manipulation risks tissue damage. Using electro-acupuncture, the patient can receive continuous stimulation for the duration of the treatment and the frequency of stimulation can be significantly higher (Van Laethem, 2018).
The effects of electro-acupuncture, in some situations, can be faster and greater than manual acupuncture, and electro-acupuncture can be used for conditions that are not responding to traditional treatment – both acute and chronic (Van Laethem, 2018).
When should electro-acupuncture be used?
While electro-acupuncture can be used for a wide variety of conditions, it is especially good in the treatment of neurological diseases, chronic pain, spasms, and paralysis (Dharmandanda, 2018). However, there are many variables to consider since the physiological response varies based on the EA device and the settings used.
When should electro-acupuncture be avoided?
There are some situations where electro-acupuncture is inappropriate, such as in patients with pace-makers, epilepsy, heart conditions, active hemorrhage, fever, infection, or in pregnancy (Van Laethem, 2018).
What to consider before using electro-acupuncture…
It is important to consider the depth and angle of insertion because muscle contraction can cause movement of the needle. The current should also not pass across the chest, to avoid cardiac incidents (Cummings, 2011).
The intensity, frequency, mode of delivery and pulse width can create different physiological responses, so it is important to understand how to properly use this valuable tool.
If you are interested to learn the proper way to choose the intensity and frequency, as well as learn about the interactions of electro-acupuncture with certain medications, check out our course on TCM Academy, Electro-Acupuncture Theoretical Training. In this course, you will also gain an understanding of the neurobiology of pain, learn cautions and contraindications, as well as learn how electro-acupuncture really works.