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Electroacupuncture being applied to the hand

How does electroacupuncture work?

Electroacupuncture uses two needles in each meridian point, or acupuncture point, and then connects to a machine that passes a small electric current through the needle. ‌

Electroacupuncture helps to block your pain by activating bioactive chemicals in your body. This process may decrease your sensitivity to the pain you’re feeling. It’s also been shown to help reduce inflammation in your body. ‌

When you get electroacupuncture, it activates your sympathetic nerve fibres. By activating these fibres, your body releases endogenous opioids such as endorphins, which help to reduce inflammation. The activated nerve fibres may also help to reduce feelings of persistent pain. This makes it a good treatment for chronic pain and stress.

Studies have also found that electroacupuncture may help your body release mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) into your bloodstream. MSCs are adult stem cells mostly found in your bone marrow. MSCs help your body create different types of tissues. They also have healing properties.

Mechanisms of Electroacupuncture on Persistent Pain

Anesthesiology. February 2014  READ FULL ARTICLE

In the last decade, preclinical investigations of electroacupuncture mechanisms on persistent tissue-injury (inflammatory), nerve-injury (neuropathic), cancer, and visceral pain have increased. These studies show that electroacupuncture activates the nervous system differently in health than in pain conditions, alleviates both sensory and affective inflammatory pain, and inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain more effectively at 2–10 Hz than at 100 Hz. Electroacupuncture blocks pain by activating a variety of bioactive chemicals through peripheral, spinal, and supraspinal mechanisms. These include opioids, which desensitize peripheral nociceptors and reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines peripherally and in the spinal cord, and serotonin and norepinephrine, which decrease spinal n-methyl-d-aspartate receptor subunit GluN1 phosphorylation. Additional studies suggest that electroacupuncture, when combined with low dosages of conventional analgesics, provides effective pain management that can forestall the side effects of often-debilitating pharmaceuticals.

Risks of electroacupuncture

There are a few risks of electroacupuncture. With the electricity component used in this type of acupuncture, certain individuals aren't recommended to try this therapy. People who have a history of any of the following conditions should avoid electroacupuncture: Seizures, Strokes, Epilepsy and Heart Disease and those fitted with a Pacemaker.

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