Acupuncture, a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine, involves gently inserting fine needles into the skin at various points on the body. Insertion of these needles can improve blood flow, relax muscles, release endorphins and endogenous painkillers, reduce inflammation, regulate various hormones and calm the central nervous system, thereby triggering the body’s natural healing response without negative side effects.
Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years as an effective therapy for regulating pain and managing many other functions of the body. A number of different types of acupuncture have come into use over the centuries. Electroacupuncture (EA) was developed around the mid-1900s and has been shown to significantly enhance traditional acupuncture treatments when addressing musculoskeletal injuries.
EA uses the same points as acupuncture, and operates on a similar principle. The difference is that the needles are attached to a device that sends electrical currents or pulses into the body. Electrical currents have stimulating effects, which can influence the cells, tissues and entire systems. While most electrotherapy techniques are transcutaneous, only allowing the electricity to flow over the skin, EA channels it into the body with pinpoint precision.
In clinical studies, EA has shown to be effective in treating a variety of conditions, particularly those that are chronic. The most obvious are pain, muscle spasms and neurological issues. But because the electrical stimulation of acupuncture points can be used to activate a variety of systems within the body, EA can be used to treat conditions as wide-ranging as heart disease, hypertension, nausea, weight gain and even skin problems.
A typical EA treatment lasts for a minimum of 30 minutes. The frequency and intensity of the electricity used by the practitioner varies, based on the patient and the condition being treated. During EA, you may experience tingling or mild involuntary muscle twitches – which are normal sensations due to the therapy being performed. It is also important to note that acupuncture is a pain free form of therapy, unlike dry needling techniques such as IMS.
Acupuncturists treat every patient as a unique being, and therefore each treatment is specialized. Your practitioner will assess any physical and emotional symptoms you present with, and make a specialized treatment plan for you. The effects of acupuncture are cumulative and the number of treatments required for healing varies depending on the duration, severity and nature of the complaint.
The list of conditions commonly treated with acupuncture and TCM is extensive and includes: