Electro Acupuncture

Electro acupuncture (EA) is an adjunct of acupuncture practise where a small electrical current is passed between pairs of acupuncture needles.  There is usually a slight sensation of buzzing or vibration associated with the electrical pulses, but the procedure is relatively pain free.

EA is a safe and effective form of therapy, which studies and systematic reviews, have shown may benefit patients for the symptoms of a wide range of conditions, in particular:

  • Nausea prevention: post chemotherapy (Zhang et al, 2014); post surgery (Ho et al, 1990); in hyperemesis gravidarum (severe “morning sickness” of pregnancy) (Ezzo et al, 2006);
  • Pain: symptomatic knee pain in rheumatoid arthritis (Casimiro et al 2005); post-operative pain and other recovery benefits post-operatively (Hayhoe, 2010, Lin et al, 2002); labour pain (Qu et al, 2007); low back pain; fibromyalgia (Delize et al. 1992); nerve pain, inflammatory pain and organ pain (Zhang et al, 2014)
  • Dental pain (Tavares et al 2007; Sim et al 2002)
  • Urinary retention after spinal injury (Liu et al 2011); urinary stress incontinence (Zhishun et al, 2017)
  • Tension-type headache (Xue et al, 2004); reducing the frequency of migraine (Xu et al, 2018)
  • Tennis elbow (Yeung et al, 2003); calcific tendonitis (Papadopoulos et al, 2019); achilles tendonitis (Yu et al, 2015)

The acupuncturist may use EA alongside other acupuncture techniques where it is indicated.


Casimiro, L., Barnsley, L., Brosseau, L., Milne, S., Welch, V., Tugwell, P. and Wells, G.A., 2005. Acupuncture and electroacupuncture for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (4).

Deluze, C., Bosia, L., Zirbs, A., Chantraine, A. and Vischer, T.L., 1992. Electroacupuncture in fibromyalgia: results of a controlled trial. British Medical Journal305(6864), pp.1249-1252.

Ezzo, J., Streitberger, K. and Schneider, A., 2006. Cochrane systematic reviews examine P6 acupuncture-point stimulation for nausea and vomiting. Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine12(5), pp.489-495.

Hayhoe, S., 2010. Postoperative benefits with electroacupuncture. Acupuncture in Medicine28(2), p.64.

Ho, R.T., Jawan, B., Fung, S.T., Cheung, H.K. and Lee, J.H., 1990. Electro‐acupuncture and postoperative emesis. Anaesthesia45(4), pp.327-329.

Lin, J.G., Lo, M.W., Wen, Y.R., Hsieh, C.L., Tsai, S.K. and Sun, W.Z., 2002. The effect of high and low frequency electroacupuncture in pain after lower abdominal surgery. Pain99(3), pp.509-514.

Liu, Z., Liu, Y., Xu, H., He, L., Chen, Y., Fu, L., Li, N., Lu, Y., Su, T., Sun, J. and Wang, J., 2017. Effect of electroacupuncture on urinary leakage among women with stress urinary incontinence: a randomized clinical trial. Jama317(24), pp.2493-2501.

Liu, Z., Zhou, K., Wang, Y. and Pan, Y., 2011. Electroacupuncture improves voiding function in patients with neurogenic urinary retention secondary to cauda equina injury: results from a prospective observational study. Acupuncture in Medicine29(3), pp.188-192.

Papadopoulos, D.V., Koulouvaris, P., Aggelidakis, G., Tsantes, A.G., Mavrodontidis, A. and Papadopoulos, G., 2019. Electroacupuncture for the treatment of supraspinatus calcific tendonitis. Journal of clinical orthopaedics and trauma10(3), pp.624-628.

Qu, F. and Zhou, J., 2007. Electro-acupuncture in relieving labor pain. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine4.

Sim, C.K., Xu, P.C., Pua, H.L., Zhang, G. and Lee, T.L., 2002. Effects of electroacupuncture on intraoperative and postoperative analgesic requirement. Acupuncture in Medicine20(2-3), pp.56-65.

Tavares, M.G., Machado, A.P., Motta, B.G., Borsatto, M.C., Rosa, A.L. and Xavier, S.P., 2007. Electro-acupuncture efficacy on pain control after mandibular third molar surgery. Brazilian Dental Journal18(2), pp.158-162.

Xu, J., Zhang, F.Q., Pei, J. and Ji, J., 2018. Acupuncture for migraine without aura: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Integrative Medicine16(5), pp.312-321.

Xue, C.C., MApplSc, L.D., Polus, B., English, R.A., Zheng, Z. and Costa, C.D., 2004. Distal point electroacupuncture for tension-type headache (n= 40). Acupuncture in Medicine22(2), pp.103-115.)

Yeung, C.K., Leung, M.C. and Chow, D.H., 2003. The use of electro-acupuncture in conjunction with exercise for the treatment of chronic low-back pain. The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 9(4), pp.479-490.

YU, H.L. and XU, L.L., 2015. Therapeutic effect of electro-acupuncture in the treatment of Achilles tendonitis. World Journal of Acupuncture-Moxibustion25(2), pp.17-22.

Zhang, R, Lao, L; Ren, K; Berman, BM (2014) Mechanisms of Acupuncture–Electroacupuncture on Persistent Pain Anesthesiology 2014; 120:482-503

Zhang, X., Jin, H.F., Fan, Y.H., Lu, B., Meng, L.N. and Chen, J.D., 2014. Effects and mechanisms of transcutaneous electroacupuncture on chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine2014.

0 comment