Does electronic acupuncture measure up to traditional when it comes to effective management of pain? The traditionalists view electronic acupuncture with scorn but is there really something in it?
I have been involved in providing alternative therapies to patients for both mental and physical pain for much of my working life. Much scepticism surrounds non-conventional treatments and many doctors are afraid to speak up about the facts. That said, there is an increasing number of medical doctors learning the art of traditional acupuncture and using it as an extra tool to help their patients.
Traditional acupuncturists train for many years in their chosen art and place a high value on the knowledge and the skill required to allow them to offer an effective treatment to patients for pain management. This is understandable. There is no doubt that traditional acupuncture provides significant relief for a wide range of ailments including back pain, headaches, neck and shoulder pain, tennis elbow, sciatica and arthritis.
Patient assessment takes place on the basis of the problems presented by a patient on any given day and the sites chosen for insertion of needles is dictated by the experience and knowledge of the acupuncturist.
Both traditional acupuncture and electronic acupuncture are based on the same principles of restoring balance to the body and allowing energy or Qi to flow freely. When meridians or energy lines in the body become blocked, stimulation of specific acupoints can in fact release the blockage and allow energy to once more flow freely throughout the body. In fact, acupressure and thought field therapy use these very same principles and I have achieved similar results to traditional acupressure without using needles on patients.
The question at hand here is whether an art that has existed for 2000 years can be replicated in an electronic device that anyone can use with little or no training. It has long been accepted that both acupuncture and transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS) have delivered significant benefits for some people suffering from pain and therefore the only real question to be answered is whether an untrained person can identify blockages in their meridians and treat their underlying condition without specialist help.
I decided to put it to the test by acquiring an electronic machine for use in my practice. The most interesting result of my tests has been in detecting problems in the body. Some of the electronic acupuncture devices on the market claim to allow you to detect exactly where the blockages in meridians lie and give you an indication of what the underlying medical problem might be. This has been perceived by my patients as extraordinary, particularly when the indications I got have been confirmed by more traditional testing methods such as X-ray's, MRI and CT scans.
One such patient was astonished when I told her that she had a problem with her Gall Bladder. She had undergone an MRI about 10 days previously and had only received the results of the scan the day before coming to me. Many examples like this one have certainly convinced me that it is possible to measure energy levels in the body and to receive feedback when blockages in the energy channels are present. The location of the blockage gives a very good indication of what the underlying problem may be.
Treatment points for detected problems are the same ones that show up during the testing phase and mild stimulation of these points with acupressure or electro-acupuncture has delivered pain relief for a large number of my patients. It is clearly not a cure-all solution and not everyone has got the same results. As with traditional acupuncture, repeated treatments are required to maintain the benefits. Based on my experience, there are some very positive results to be gained from using electronic acupuncture.