Electroacupuncture is an alternative medicine therapy similar to acupuncture in which the needles used carry a mild electric current. The current is said to be especially beneficial for pain relief.
As in traditional acupuncture, electroacupuncture involves inserting small needles into the body at certain meridian points on the body in order to clear life energy blockages (called qi or chi), treat body disorders, relieve pain and restore the balance of ying and yang. The main difference is that small electrical currents are passed between pairs of the acupuncture needles, further stimulating the flow of chi. The procedure is often used in situations in which a person’s qi is difficult to stimulate or is there is an accumulation of qi.
Electroacupuncture was developed in 1934 as an extension of traditional acupuncture, which has been a component of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) since approximately 100BC China. Duration of the therapy usually lasts between 10 and 20 minutes.
Conditions said to benefit from electroacupuncture include rheumatoid arthritis, chemotherapy-induced vomiting, and neurological diseases including spasms, chronic pain and paralysis. It is recommended that people with cardiac conditions avoid electroacupuncture therapy.
When administered by a licensed acupuncturist, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found that short-term clinical use electroacupuncture is safe. Mild side effects include involuntary muscle twitching, light spasms, numbness, and distention.