Sports injuries are common and are experienced to varying degrees in different sports. Research suggests that athletes are prone to these especially at the beginning of their career, due to inexperience.

These injuries range from minor toe and wrist injuries to incapacitating dislocations and trauma. Some are so intense that the patient loses function in some parts of their body. The major areas prone to sports-related injuries are the tissue and the bones. Common tissue injuries are major and minor bruises, sprains and strains. All of these can cause discomfort, restricted movement and pain.

Acupuncture is known to be a valuable treatment in this area. There are different types of acupuncture procedures devoted to dealing with sports injuries. Different acupuncture techniques are used, depending on the injury and the extent of the bone and tissue damage. One such technique is electroacupuncture.

What is Electroacupuncture?

Electroacupuncture, also referred to as EA, is an advanced form of acupunctural treatment which is used for treating sports-related injuries. Electroacupuncture is used by many physicians for a range of medical conditions including acute pain, skin disorders, neurological disorders, depression, nausea, and so on.

It is applied like common acupuncture, which involves slender needles being inserted along acupunctural points in the body. But, in this case, small clips which are attached to an E-Stim machine are powered by a small battery and connected to at least two selected acupuncture needles on the other end. Electrical current is passed through the battery and into the patient’s body through the selected needles.

This additional energy is used to augment the traditional acupunctural treatment process. This explains why electroacupuncture can help improve the results of your rehabilitation.  Depending on the conditions being treated, the electroacupuncture devices serve to adjust the frequency of the impulses generated by the needles into the body. The result is that your body is more relaxed and open to other treatments your doctor may want to administer.

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How can it help treat an injury?

By adding and adjusting the frequency generated by the needles, electroacupuncture helps reduce swelling and pain and it increases the flow of blood along the affected areas, consequently reducing the healing timeframe. It is established that acupuncture helps to relieve pain and stimulate healing through its own mechanism, electroacupuncture can stimulate tissue and cause physiological effects that mechanically induce healing.

With this advanced form of acupunctural treatment, one generates two types of frequency through the needles, named the low 2Hz and the high 100Hz. While the former produces a frequency stimulation similar to that of an adult human’s heartbeat, the latter feels more than a tingle in the body making it possible for the acupuncturist to target the 2/3 receptors of the muscle when they need to stimulate the pain relief effect of the muscle (using the low 2Hz). Research shows that low-frequency output in acupuncture produces more endorphins in the nervous system.

In simple terms, electroacupuncture is a more precise nerve stimulation method than the traditional technique. It is perfect for conditions which require the benefits of both acupuncture and some level of electrical stimulation, a technique common for sports injuries and other kinds of pain.

What does it feel like?

An electroacupuncture session feels like a continuous tingling sensation through the body. The patient will feel a rhythm similar to that of a heartbeat or tingling and some level of muscle twitching, depending on the frequency of the current used. It should feel strong yet comfortable and, in the event that it doesn’t, the acupuncturist will dial back a bit on the frequency.

There are different sensations associated with electroacupuncture depending on both the frequency and the pain being treated. Some describe a heavy feeling along each area the needles are placed. It is as though a heavy object is placed there. Other times there is a tingly feeling in each point which can extend to other parts of the body with time. This is common with high-frequency stimulation.

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What are the risks/side effects?

It is important that your therapist gets as much of your medical history as possible to reduce any risk that may be associated with the treatment. In itself, electroacupuncture is a very safe technique with little to no risk. However, it is not recommended for people with a history of stroke, any form of heart disease, seizures and epilepsy. With pregnant women, the shocking part is preferably skipped during sessions.

Severe problems like punctured lungs are rare (1 in 200,000 sessions) and can easily be avoided by using safe needling methods.

What conditions is it used for?

Electroacupuncture is ideal for conditions related to muscle and joint dysfunction. Back pain, muscle aches, and every sports-related injury like sprains, strains, and bruises are relieved using different frequencies of electroacupuncture. The results have been known to be long-lasting and lead to faster healing than when treated with other modern medical practices alone. It helps relieve muscle stiffness and increases joint mobility. This is possible because the method induces local microcirculation. The treatment has successful in handling skin conditions like:

  • acne
  • renal colic

Though electroacupuncture is not often recommended for those with heart disease, seeing that it increases the endorphins produced in the body, it can lower blood pressure and consequently reduce heart disease. Also, the technique helps with acute nausea associated with chemotherapy and other cancer treatments.


There are numerous benefits of  acupuncture treatment for pain and sport related injuries and how often you should undergo it will depend on the kind of condition you are struggling with. Four sessions are ideal for a start. This ensures that the therapist gets the chance to develop a treatment plan and understand your medical history. It is important you contact only an experienced acupuncturist to conduct it, so as to reap the health benefits the treatment has to offer and to reduce health risks.