Electro-acupuncture, also called electro-stimulation or E-stim for short, is a form of alternative therapy in which electrodes are attached to acupuncture needles in desired acupuncture points. The wires connect to a machine through which the veterinarian can manually adjust the voltage and frequency.
E-stim is the mechanical form of hand-manipulation of acupuncture needles, such as spinning the needles in place to cause more of a nerve or immune response. The pulsating current excites the nerve endings just like regular acupuncture but with added energy.
How does it work?
Exchanging hand manipulation for a machine has many added benefits, including constant and controlled energy flow at a reduced session time as well as avoidance of tissue damage that could be caused by inappropriate needle twirling.
Electrodes are typically paired with alternating currents to sustain the transmission of impulses. It is normal to see slight muscle twitching with E-stim, similar to occasional occurrences of this phenomenon with regular acupuncture.
During the session, the pet's body usually becomes accustomed to the initial sensation, and so the veterinarian gradually adjusts the intensity of the settings to maintain effectiveness and the desired response.
What can it treat?
While many pets can benefit from E-stim, the treatment is most often used with neurolgical cases. Examples of ailments E-stim might be used to treat include:
- Chronic pain
- Hindquarter weakness
- Muscle spasms
Is my pet a good candidate?
Despite the many positive qualities of E-stim, not all pets are a good candidate. For one thing, just like laser therapy, the pet needs to sit still in order for the electrodes to remain attached to the needles.
The added excitation of nerves caused by an E-stim treatment can also cause a patient to be more tired than a typical acupuncture session. Sometimes, simply cutting back on the electric current's frequency reduces exhaustion, but other times the animal just is not a good fit for electro-acupuncture.
Patients with cardiac complications also require additional care in needle placement with E-stim treatments, specifically avoiding acupoints around the heart. Any potential E-stim candidate should experience a regular acupuncture session to see how they handle and respond to the needling treatment prior to beginning E-stim.