Research Update – Electroacupuncture for Pain
A study published in Anesthesiology: The Journal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, Inc., tested electroacupuncture for its effectiveness in treating persistent pain. Although the subjects used in the study were animals, the findings can be translated and adjusted so the same methods can be used to treat human beings. The studies showed that electroacupuncture can significantly decrease several types of pain, including neuropathic, inflammatory, cancer-related and visceral pain. The studies showed substantial evidence that electroacupuncture can indeed treat analgesia in patients that are suffering from chronic pain, regardless of the type of pain.
Acupuncture is a modality used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in which a practitioner inserts hair-thin, solid, stainless steel needles into the body, under the skin along neural and vessel pathways. These active channels encourage the smooth flow of flow of blood, oxygen, and nerve transmission within the body while promoting balance and alignment.
Electroacupuncture is a variation on acupuncture. Electroacupuncture works the same way as regular acupuncture, but it uses the needles as conduits that administer small jolts of electricity that invigorate the skin, muscles, and nerves of the body. Electricity increases the effects of acupuncture. This can lead to increased energy, pain relief, and more. The electrical charges encourage the body to release neurotransmitters that can act as natural painkillers. Because of this, electroacupuncture is becoming more common for the treatment of pain.
Electroacupuncture is especially useful for conditions such as chronic pain and can be used as a pain reliever for muscle spasms, neurological disorders and possibly even heart disease. There is evidence that electrical stimulation of acupressure points can activate the endorphin system which can lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of heart disease.
Electroacupuncture produces a rhythmic, non-painful muscle twitch just below the needle through the use of a minimal milliamp current. This stimulation triggers perfusion of blood flow locally. This blood flow carries essential nutrients that promote muscle regeneration. The use of electroacupuncture can break pain cycles while smoothing the way for a person’s pain-relieving mechanisms. Electroacupuncture also relaxes muscles.
Electroacupuncture does come with risks, and it is not appropriate for everybody. Anybody who has a history of seizures, epilepsy or stroke, would not be an ideal candidate for the use of electroacupuncture. Also, it is not recommended for people who have pacemakers, as it can interfere with the electrical current of the devices. Before trying electroacupuncture, the practitioner should verify that you are not at risk. If they do not, it is vital for the patient to bring this up to avoid any complications.