Q: My wife has been seeing an acupuncturist for fertility issues. The acupuncturist still has not used needles on my wife after four visits. She has been using a handheld electronic device with a pointed end that doesn't break the skin (like a TENS machine). Is this treatment likely to be effective, we have our concerns as we have not heard of acupuncturists using this type of equipment in a clinic. My wife has no problem with needles and if these are more likely to be effective we would rather that these be used.
A:The use of electro-acupuncture machines, of which we assume this is one, is quite common, and there are a number of BAcC members who like to use them on a regular basis. The reason most often given by those who do so it that the EA machine can often deliver a gentle stimulation of the acupuncture point over a long period of time, and for some kinds of treatment this can be very beneficial. The majority of EA machines are wired up to needles which have been inserted as normal, although there are a few hand-held machines which can deliver the pulse waves which stimulate the energy.
There is no evidence suggesting that EA devices are any more or any less effective than traditional needling, and we assume that the practitioner would have trained with the use of needles and used this technique after deliberation and on the basis that it actually works. Most practitioners often experiment with all sorts of sizes of needle and styles of treatment until they find a system that works best for them, and we assume that this practitioner has decided on the basis of her experience of working in this field that this is her preferred and most effective option.
If your wife would prefer traditional needling, and for many people this is part of the authentic experience of acupuncture which they seek, we are sure that the practitioner will be happy to accede to this request, or at very least explain her own rationale for using the EA device instead.