Electroacupuncture applies modern technology to an ancient healing modality to relieve pain or muscle spasms.

Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine that involves a practitioner inserting slender needles into the body, under the skin. The placement may seem random, but acupuncturists carefully consider the positioning of needles to coincide with the body’s meridians. Meridians are invisible lines along which energy, also known as qi, flow. In Chinese medicine, qi must flow freely for optimal health.

Blocked or stagnant energy results in disease or decreased vitality, in the Chinese medicine view.

The needles work to free that energy. Chinese medicine practitioners have used acupuncture for thousands of years. In the last few decades, a modernized version of that ancient practice, called electroacupuncture, has gained popularity.

Electroacupuncture works the same way as acupuncture, but uses the needles as conduits for tiny jolts of electricity that invigorate the skin. The theory is that using electricity amplifies the effects of acupuncture, further invigorating the body’s energy and relieving pain. The electricity encourages additional physical processes beyond the stimulation of qi.

Electricity, when combined with acupuncture, encourages the body to release neurotransmitters that act as natural painkillers.

An acupuncturist varies the intensity of the electric impulses generated based upon the patient and his or her condition. Sessions typically last for 30 minutes and are generally safe, save for a few contraindications—namely if you have experienced epilepsy, have heart disease, or wear a pacemaker. For most patients undergoing electroacupuncture, however, they generally only feel a slight tingling from the electrical current. In some cases, bruising may occur.

Studies are beginning to demonstrate the benefits of electroacupuncture for treating conditions such as chronic pain. In 2012, the journal Acupuncture in Medicine published a study that found patients suffering from painful back problems experienced more relief from electroacupuncture than from traditional acupuncture. Researchers attributed the increased benefit to electroacupuncture’s ability to rally the body’s natural pain suppression system and improve nerve blood flow.

Would you consider trying electroacupuncture?

Image by kurt via Flickr


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