Electroacupuncture Treatment Benefits, Side Effects

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What is Electroacupuncture?

Electroacupuncture is a comprehensive term for all procedures based on treatment derived from Chinese acupuncture, using modern electronic equipment. The term  Electroacupuncture was first coined by the French acupuncturist Dr. Roger de a Fuye in Paris. He joined an electric device (Diathermopuncture) with stimulation of needles for 1/8 to two seconds. Acupuncture analgesia is also called Electroacupuncture.

In 1953 Werner And Voll developed a tool for applying Electroacupuncture into the skin without using needles. The instrument (called the K + F Diatherapuncteur) managed to find acupuncture points, render them measurable, enable electrical treatment to be provided and to be remeasured electrically to evaluate the effect of this treatment.

Voll adopted the system of meridians as described in classical acupuncture. These are energy Tines obtained by superficial points on the body’s surface, each one relating to the energy status of an internal organ.

Some scholars attribute its discovery to Japanese scientists in the 1940s that were interested in creating bone fractures heal more quickly. Others assert that Electroacupuncture was not developed until 1958. This was when acupuncturists in China began experimenting with it as a form of pain relief. Whatever the historical situation, Electroacupuncture is an increasingly common form of therapy, and is used by practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine for a broad range of conditions.

The voltage applied is generally 40-80 volts, but no current flows through the body – there’s just enough stimulation for the individual to feel a small pulsating sensation. A typical treatment session in Electroacupuncture usually lasts between 10 to 20 minutes and rarely more 30 minutes – much lower than the standard acupuncture treatment.

This complementary medicine technique is a recent development from the ancient process of acupuncture, the idea behind it corresponds directly with long-held beliefs. Acupuncture operates on the notion that a person’s qi, or life force, runs through body together specific pathways, and that definite points on the body correspond with these rhythms. When these points are ‘triggered’ or stimulated by touch, particular complaints of chronic pain or disorders can be relieved. With a gentle electric current in conjunction with, or instead of, acupuncture needles, is an alternate means to arouse the point and improve the qi.

Acupuncture vs. Electroacupuncture

Difference between Acupuncture & Electroacupuncture

Only one needle is used in the standard acupuncture version at each treatment stage. Electroacupuncture is a modified form that uses two needles. A gentle electric current passes between those needles during therapy. This present generally applies more stimulation to acupoints than needle twirling or other hand manipulation methods an acupuncturist may use.

Electroacupuncture and traditional acupuncture stimulate the same points during therapy. Like traditional acupuncture, needles are inserted on particular points along the body. The needles are then attached to a system that produces constant electric pulses using small clips. The correct frequency and intensity of the impulse are delivered depending upon the condition.  Electroacupuncture uses two needles at times, so the impulses can pass from one needle to another. Several pairs of needles could be stimulated simultaneously, usually for no longer than thirty minutes at a time.

One advantage of Electroacupuncture is that a professional doesn’t have to be super-precise with needles insertion. This benefit results from the current delivered through the needle that stimulates a much larger area. It is also possible to administer Electroacupuncture without using needles. A similar technique is known as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) that uses electrodes taped to the skin rather than being inserted into it. The benefit of this process is that it can be used by those who have a phobia of needles or a medical condition that is not conducive to needles.

How does Electroacupuncture work?

How does it work?

According to TCM principles, your health is dependent upon the circulation of qi (energy) in your body. This energy travels along meridians or pathways. These pathways exist all over the body. Qi helps keep your body’s natural balance and encourage its ability to heal itself. An interruption in the flow of qi can negatively affect physical and psychological well-being.

Electroacupuncture helps to remove the blockage of natural energy. It activates the corresponding points connected to your adverse symptoms to help restart the flow of qi. Two needles are put around the stage as a machine delivers an electrical impulse to them. Electroacupuncture helps supplement or increase the potential therapeutic effects of regular acupuncture.

What happens during a session?

A licensed acupuncturist performs the Electroacupuncture. In a typical session, your acupuncturist will evaluate your symptoms and choose points for treatment. They will insert a needle in the treatment stage and another needle nearby. When the needles are inserted into the right thickness, your acupuncturist will use electrodes to attach the needles into a particular Electroacupuncture machine. After the electrodes are attached, they will turn on the machine. Electroacupuncture machines have adjustable voltage and current settings. Low voltages and frequencies will be used in the beginning, though your acupuncturist may adjust the voltage and frequency of the current during therapy. The electric current pulsates and alternates between the two needles. An average session could last between 10 and 20 minutes, which is less than the typical acupuncture session.

The electric current used in Electroacupuncture does not act on you directly. Though you may feel some tingling sensation, you should not feel any pain during the treatment, besides a fast prick initially when the needle is inserted. Most people report not feeling any pain.

Electroacupuncture benefits

The Electroacupuncture procedure usually involves the needles inserted as in conventional therapy. In Electroacupuncture, a small electrode is attached to them. This electrode gives a gentle vibration that stimulates the qi running through those points. It’s often very soothing to the individual, offering a soft humming and,  a more fluid therapy. The electrode substitutes the professionals’ hand maneuvering of the needle to trigger the acupuncture point. This avoids any tiring of the professional and ensures that the person receives the appropriate amount of stimulation required. Also, Electroacupuncture treatments tend to be shorter than traditional acupuncture treatments because of the continuing, and often more powerful, stimulation. An exclusive benefit of Electroacupuncture is its ability to simulate an area larger than the needle itself. This benefit reduces the need for precise insertion of needles.

Electroacupuncture uses the same points as conventional acupuncture and is a handy stimulation technique that may be used for a number of treatments. In cases of persistent neurological disorders and chronic pain, Electroacupuncture might be a viable solution for point stimulation and effective remedies.

While Electroacupuncture may be utilized as a component of just about all acupuncture treatments, it’s has garnered especially good results about the treatment of neurological disorders, chronic pain, spasms, and migraines. Additionally, holistic sports medicine use of Electroacupuncture for injuries is common. When combined with acupressure (the stimulation of acupuncture points by means of the practitioner’s hands and massage, rather than needles), Electroacupuncture was demonstrated to encourage the circulation of qi and blood, alleviate pain, and warm the muscles, eliminating blood stasis (a blockage, or poor circulation). Patients typically do not feel the electrical current, and the side effects, at most, can be minor bleeding or bruising.

What conditions can Electroacupuncture heal?

As per the fundamentals of traditional Chinese medicine, a blockage or improper flow of qi throughout the body can cause illness. Acupuncturists ascertain whether qi is weak, stagnant, or out of equilibrium, which indicates the points to be aroused. Electroacupuncture is especially helpful for conditions where there is an excess accumulation of qi energy. These conditions exist in chronic pain syndromes, or in cases where the qi is difficult to stimulate.

 Common pain conditions that can be healed are:

Low Back Pain

Shoulder Girdle Pain

Rotator Cuff Pain

Lateral Epicondylitis


Knee Pain

De Quervain Syndrome

Neck Pain

Scientific Studies in Electroacupcunture

Researchers have analyzed Electroacupuncture in the US for many different conditions. It’s been effectively used as a form of anesthesia; as a pain reliever for muscle spasms; and a treatment for neurological disorders. Other studies have analyzed the function of Electroacupuncture in treating skin conditions like acne, renal colic, and severe nausea brought on by cancer medicines. There’s also some evidence that electrical stimulation of acupuncture points activates the endorphin system, which could lower blood pressure and reduce cardiovascular disease.

A small number of scientific studies suggest that it might offer some relief from chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, arthritis, and severe (short-term) pain.

Acute pain

A 2014 review examined multiple preclinical animal studies on Electroacupuncture’s usage as a kind of pain relief. The results imply that Electroacupuncture can help reduce various types of acute pain. The researchers found evidence to indicate that a complementary blend of Electroacupuncture and pain drugs may be more effective than medication alone. This outcome is promising, as it might suggest that using Electroacupuncture for pain relief may reduce the need for high doses of medication. These results came from animal research. More research is necessary to comprehend the effects of Electroacupuncture on pain in people.

Chemotherapy-related nausea

Eleven randomized trials were examined for the use of acupuncture to reduce chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting. The authors noted that Electroacupuncture seemed to be more helpful for reducing nausea shortly after a chemotherapy treatment compared to standard acupuncture.


A 2005 review looked at two studies investigating the benefits of acupuncture for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). One study used Electroacupuncture treatments. In this study, people who received Electroacupuncture treatment reported a substantial decrease in knee pain only 24 hours after treatment. This effect lasts as long as four weeks following therapy. However, the review authors note that the study included just a few participants and was of low quality.

A recent literature review from 2017 appeared at 11 randomized controlled trials on Electroacupuncture for knee osteoarthritis. The results imply Electroacupuncture helped to reduce pain and enhance movement. The authors said that the studies seemed to indicate four weeks of therapy were needed. The researchers concluded by highlighting the need for more high-quality trials to encourage Electroacupuncture’s treatment benefits.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

A recent study involving 174 participants experiencing mild to contemporary carpal tunnel syndrome quantified the effects of Electroacupuncture therapy over 17 weeks. “Those who experienced Electroacupuncture treatment reported less disability and less severe symptoms, plus more function and much more dexterity,” based on an article by the Chicago Tribune. Though there was not a substantial drop in pain, for people suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome Electroacupuncture is a less costly and welcome alternative — compared to invasive procedures like surgery.

Injury-induced pain

Another study released by Stem Cells Journals found that Electroacupuncture stimulation enhanced hypothalamic functional connectivity in human subjects.  The stimulation triggered the release of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) into the blood. These cells then multiply and become many kinds of tissues, demonstrating Electroacupuncture’s capacity to take care of injury-induced pain and tissue regeneration.

Does Electroacupuncture hurt?

Patients may experience a tingling feeling while being treated with Electroacupuncture, which is most likely due to the electrical current. Quite simply, people do not feel the tingling sensation. Some minor bruising or bleeding may occur, that is the effect of a needle hitting small blood vessels.

Precautions & risks

Are there any risks involved?

Electroacupuncture should not be used on patients who are pregnant, that have a history of heart disease or strokes, seizures, epilepsy, or on patients with pacemakers. Another recommendation is that the current shouldn’t travel across the midline of the body when needles are attached to an electrical current. It should not be performed on a person’s head or neck, or directly over the center. 

Before trying Electroacupuncture, one should be sure to go over the possible risks and benefits with their practitioner. As evidence from the scientific studies grows, more caregivers will turn to licensed acupuncturists to provide effective and excellent treatment.


Electro-acupuncture is a specialized therapeutic method in which a tiny electrical charge is applied to needles which are inserted into specific points and have achieved De Qi. Electroacupuncture is advantageous in treating conditions that benefit from acupuncture and electric stimulation. Electroacupuncture shares the same indications as filiform needling, therefore it can be used to treat many conditions.