Electroacupuncture is much like it sounds- a treatment technique in which a tiny electric current is passed to pairs of acupuncture needles. Why the heck would I want to do that, say you? Well, as it turns out, it’s a safe and highly effective treatment for pain with a long history. Ancient Egyptians actually used electric fish to treat pain in 2000 BCE. Fast-forward to Italian physician Galvani, who discovered the muscle twitch response in dead frog legs back in 1780. You may remember this rather macabre experiment from your high school biology class. The science of neurology further developed in the 1800’s to discover the uses of electric current in muscular contraction. Electro-acupuncture is a fairly modern application in traditional acupuncture-practiced since 1934 and it’s become ever more popular due to its efficacy.
How does it work? A rhythmic, non-painful muscle twitch is produced beneath the needle via a very small milliamp current. This electric stimulation to needles (called PENS, percutaneous electric stimulation) is shown to produce natural painkillers- also known as endogenous opioids; the most well known of which are endorphins. The treatment also elicits perfusion of blood flow locally, carrying with it essential nutrients promoting muscle regeneration. Microamp current is even smaller- often barely perceptible to the patient. This current does not cause muscular contractions; rather it’s been shown in some studies to produce ATP, critical for cellular energy and is also thought to promote tissue healing.
Electroacupuncture helps to break vicious pain cycles, deal with chronic pain disorders and facilitate patients own pain relief mechanism. As well as the analgesic effect, electro acupuncture stimulates muscle relaxation, normalized muscle length and overall stress reduction. Consider giving it a try next time you are contending with pain. You will be slightly shocked at how well it works!