Electroacupuncture for pain relief involves adding electric current to the needles used to perform acupuncture treatment, a widely practiced form of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Acupuncture involves inserting very thin, sterile needles into specific places in the body.

Electroacupuncture introduces a mild electric current that passes between the needles during treatment. This current applies more stimulation to acupoints than needle twirling or other hand manipulation techniques an acupuncturist might use.

In TCM, health depends on the qi (energy) flow throughout the body. Qi travels along invisible pathways, known as meridians, aiding the body in staying balanced and promoting its natural ability to heal itself. Blocking or disrupting the flow of qi can negatively impact physical and emotional well-being. Electroacupuncture stimulates the acupuncture points related to your specific symptoms, aiding the flow of qi and increasing the potential healing effects of standard acupuncture.

Here’s what a session might look like:

  • Your doctor will evaluate your symptoms and select points for treatment.
  • An acupuncture needle will be painlessly inserted at the treatment point, and another needle will be nearby.
  • Acupuncture needles are inserted into specific points throughout the body along acupuncture meridians. Electrodes are attached to the needles and connected to a specialized electroacupuncture device.
  • A mild current is applied to the needles. The current is adjusted to a strong but comfortable level.
  • The electric current pulsates, alternating between the two needles.

A typical electroacupuncture session typically lasts between 10 and 20 minutes.

Acupuncture for pain relief

Does Electroacupuncture Hurt?

Electroacupuncture is closely related to acupuncture but involves stimulating two needles with an electrical current. Some believe that this enhances the healing properties of traditional acupuncture. The electrical current used in Electroacupuncture doesn’t actually act on the body directly. There will be some “tingling” or “vibration” during treatment, but there shouldn’t be any pain. When acupuncture needles are inserted, some patients experience a mild “pinch.”

Electroacupuncture For Arthritis Pain

2005 review examined two studies exploring the benefits of acupuncture for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). One study used electroacupuncture treatments. In this study, those who received electroacupuncture treatment reported a significant reduction in knee pain just 24 hours after treatment. This effect lasted as long as four months after treatment.

A more recent literature review from 2017 reviewed 11 separate, randomized controlled trials (RCT) on Electroacupuncture for knee osteoarthritis. The results of these studies suggest that electroacupuncture helps reduce pain and improve movement. The authors noted that the studies found treatment plans of at least four weeks provided the best results.

Electroacupuncture for Acute Pain Relief

2014 literature review examined multiple preclinical animal studies on Electroacupuncture’s use as a form of pain relief. The results suggest that Electroacupuncture can help reduce different types of pain.

The authors also found evidence suggesting a combination of electroacupuncture and pain medication may be more effective than alone. This is promising, as it could mean that using Electroacupuncture for pain relief may reduce the need for high doses of medicine.

Side Effects of Electroacupuncture for Pain Relief

The side effects of Electroacupuncture include:

  • Mild nausea
  • Dizziness, feeling faint, or fainting
  • Pain or light bleeding when the needle is inserted
  • Redness or bruising at the needle site
  • Infection at the needle site, though this is rare when single-use sterile needles are used

If the tingling or vibration of the electric current causes discomfort, tell your acupuncturist immediately. If the voltage is too strong, the sensation could become unpleasant. Electroacupuncture is very safe when done by a skilled provider.

In addition, you shouldn’t try Electroacupuncture if you:

Choosing the Right Provider for Electroacupuncture

If you’d like to try Electroacupuncture, you’ll first need to find a state-licensed acupuncturist. Make sure to ask if they offer electrical stimulation when you call to get more information. Not all acupuncture clinics offer this treatment.

Before making an appointment, consider asking the practitioner a few questions, such as:

  • Do they have training or certification in Electroacupuncture
  • How long does a typical treatment last
  • How long they’ve been treating clients
  • If they have experience using Electroacupuncture to treat your symptoms
  • Does the office accept medical insurance

We will do whatever we can to address your concerns and help you feel as comfortable as possible during your treatment. Acupuncture usually takes numerous treatments over several weeks to make a difference, so expect to be asked to return for more treatments. Even if the acupuncturist you choose accepts health insurance, not all insurance providers cover acupuncture.

Ready to Find Real Relief?

Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years, and it is a well-studied and evidenced-based practice. Our office is conveniently located for patients in Arvada, Denver, and Wheat Ridge, Colorado! Dr. James Doran, DC is a certified chiropractic acupuncturist who has provided pain-free acupuncture treatment for over 20 years and dry needling, a very similar therapy. Still not sure? Check out some of our 5-Star reviews and see what our happy, healthy, pain-free patients have to say. Ready to get relief from your pain? Looking for a Denver Chiropractor? Request an Appointment!