Posts Tagged ‘electric stimulation’
Feb 6, 2012
The art of electro-acupuncture is in the details of how one uses the therapy. An effective electro-acupuncture treatment comes from what electric stimulation machine is used, proper selection of acupuncture points, how long you use the stimulation, and the proper frequency.
In our New York City Acupuncture clinic, we use the Pantheon Research microstim machine. This is one the highest quality machines ensure a safe and effective treatment. Microstim means that the amplitude of the electric stimulation is much smaller. This is much more comfortable for the patient.
Acupuncture Point Selection
Selecting the best acupuncture points is important when using the electro-acupuncture. The acupuncture points should be chosen based upon the type of pain, the location of pain, and the muscle tightness.
This is particularly important when using acupuncture for shoulder pain. For example, if there is an acute shoulder pain with a tight knot on the corner of the shoulder blade or on the apex of the shoulder, then the leads can be placed on acupuncture points surround the area of pain.
If the spasm is very reactive to pressure, the muscle will resist too much stimulation. In that case, the leads should be placed on the acupuncture points along the effected acupuncture channel a little distance from the pain.
What is the optimal duration for electro-acupuncture?
The optimal time for electro acupuncture pain relief is 20 minutes. My preference is to perform electro acupuncture for 20 minutes. Afterwards, twirl the acupuncture needles to stimulate them and continue with 15 minutes more of regular acupuncture. This helps to get the pain relief and anti-inflammatory effects of both the electro acupuncture and regular acupuncture.
What is the best frequency for electro-acupuncture?
The lower frequencies of electo-acupuncture, such 2hz, 4 hz, or 10hz, can address both pain and inflammation. Most of the time, I use 4hz or 10hz, for most joint pain. These low frequencies can also be useful for insomnia and anxiety in some people.
Is there is chronic muscle tightness that is causing pain, the higher electro-acupuncture frequencies can sometime be effective. In my last post I wrote about electro-acupuncture for a patient with Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome.
Jan 30, 2012
Acupuncture is a constantly evolving art. Electro-acupunctrue was only developed within the last 100 years. Electro-acupuncture is used to augment the pain relieving and anti-inflammatory aspects of acupuncture
Electro-acupuncture is very similar to regular acupuncture. That is the acupuncture point selection is generally the same and the treatment time is also similar. Electro-acupuncture provides additional small amount electric stimulation to the acupuncture needles. The electric stimulation enhances muscle relaxation, the release of natural pain killers in the body, as well as decreases inflammation.
Electro-acupuncture is most often used for chronic pain and inflammatory conditions. The pain relief with electro-acupuncture can be so dramatic it has been used for certain types of surgery in China.
History of Electro-acupuncture
Electro-acupuncture for pain, much like other medical discoveries, was somewhat of an accident. In the early 20th century, acupuncture doctors were looking for a way to enhance bone healing by adding electrical current to an acupuncture treatment.
While it did not speed the bone healing, the physicians found it worked wonderfully for pain relief. A new therapy in the long history of acupuncture was born.
How to use Electro-acupuncture
There are many choices when using the electroacupuncture. This is where the art and skill of the acupuncture technique comes into play.
The first is what points to put the leads on. Each lead has 2 clips. You can put them on two acupuncture points that are relatively close together if you want to focus on relaxing a specific region of the body, such as the lower back. Or you can put them farther away if you want to increase circulation in the channels. It is important to place the leads ipsilaterally, that is only one side of the body and not cross the spine.
Then one chooses the frequency. Generally, I use a lower frequency between 4hz and 10hz. This is because the low frequency has been shown to decrease both pain and inflammation (1). The higher frequency, such as 100hz or 200 hz can be powerful for reducing pain, but not as much reduction of inflammation.
After the points and the frequency for electro-acupuncture have been selected I will turn the simulator on. We gradually increase the amplitude of the each lead until the patient gently feels a light tapping. The body generally adjusts and you feel the tapping only for a few minutes.
Success is in the details: How to select frequency
Frequencies can be changed in order to focus on different types of pain. This can be useful for a short stimulation for acute muscle spasm. Or it can help someone who has been experiencing chronic pain with persistent pain or partial relief some lower frequencies, I will use a higher frequencies of electro-acupuncture to stop the pain.
For example, recently I was working with a patient with chronic pelvic pain syndrome. After 2 months of treatment with acupuncture and electro-acupuncture, we were able to reduce the pain to less than half of the initial pain levels. But there was a persistent low level of pain remaining.
I changed from low frequency to high level frequency electro-acupuncture at 200hz on lower back and pelvic regions using acupuncture points such as Bladder 23, Bladder 35, and Gall Bladder 30 for 10 minute treatment. After 3 weeks of this additional treatment, the pain was reduced to almost nothing.
1. Lixin Lao section on electro-acupuncture for pain relief in review article. For full article, please see
Napadow V, Ahn A, Longhurst J, et.al. The Status and Future of Acupuncture Mechanism Research. J Altern Complement Med. 2008 September; 14(7): 861–869.