Using Electronic Stimulation with Acpuncture

E-stim with AcupunctureI employ a variety of techniques to treat patients at Rivertown Acupuncture, including the use of electric stimulation with acupuncture needles. Here is a brief overview of the range of conditions e-stim can help to alleviate.

Electric stimulation, or e-stim, is very effective for augmenting trigger point therapy, which is by definition intramuscular stimulation. Instead of the practitioner inserting needles into ‘motor points’ (i.e., areas of constriction within the muscle) and manually stimulating to initiate fasciculation, the needles are instead connected to cables that conduct electricity. This is especially effective for chronic conditions such as sciatica, plantar fasciitis and low back pain.

However, electric stimulation can treat many more conditions than muscle constriction.

Electric stimulation may also be an effective option for alleviating non-organic pain, as it helps the nervous system readjust its pattern of pain response. Pain patterns are a phenomenon whereby the body continues to feel pain long after the organic reason ceases to exist. Obvious examples of this include phantom limb and phantom organs, such as, when the gallbladder continues to emanate pain long after it’s been removed. E-stim has the effect of gently stimulating the nervous system to shift its pattern away from a circular pain loop.

E-stim can also be applied to different types of injuries and stages of healing. On one end of the spectrum it stimulates the release of stubborn trigger points; on the other end, it can also create very gentle, ‘barely there’ stimulation for muscle tear repair, such as torn hamstrings or biceps. A combination of frequencies can be employed that accelerates bone healing, as in the case of fractures or hip replacement.  Electric stimulation also promotes pain relief, utilizing different frequencies and intensities for both for the short and long term organic pain.

Electric stimulation has been shown to be effective for opioid induced hyperalgesia, a “state of nociceptive sensitization “caused by exposure to opioids” — a condition characterized by a paradoxical response to pain reducing opioids that increases pain to certain stimuli.

Because of its tissue softening effects, electrical stimulation may also be employed for painful visceral conditions, such as fibromyalgia and IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). The advantage to electric stimulation in the acupuncturist’s hands is our ability to direct the stimulation beneath the skin’s surface. Whereas physical therapists and other practitioners may use TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), our ability to insert acupuncture needles and direct current into muscles or connective tissue enables a faster and more comprehensive approach to pain and painful visceral conditions.

Trigger point dry needling and e-stim are but two of the many services I provide in combination with acupuncture to treat a variety of conditions, alleviate pain, and improve my patients’ well-being. Learn more about the other techniques I employ on my Acupuncture Services page.