The Acupuncture Pen
A significant number of people are wrongly put off acupuncture because of feeling uncomfortable with the notion of having needles inserted into the skin. Although this is not rational, and acupuncture is painless and without risk of infection if properly carried out, there are alternatives to traditional acupuncture which can eliminate this perceived problem. One of the most common is transdermal electrical nerve stimulation or TENS, which stimulates the same points around the body as acupuncture without penetrating the skin by applying small electrical impulses to the correct area.
What is an ‘acupuncture pen’?
There are large machines designed to carry out this kind of treatment, but also small ‘accupuncture pens’ are available which have been show to be very effective and convenient. Strictly speaking, these pens do not administer acupuncture as no mechanical penetration of the skin is carried out, however the close relationship of TENS type treatments to traditional needle acupuncture has made the name stick. Different designs are either battery powered, rechargeable or mains connected, but the majority of acupuncture pens work in a similar way at the ‘business end’. One of the newer developments in acupuncture pen design are ultrasonic sensors which are able to aid a user in finding the exact point at which to apply the electrical stimulation. Many of the more popular designs currently for sale also have a small computer and display which allows the selection of several different stimulating programs depending on the results that are desired.
Traditional needle acupuncture is complicated enough to be best carried out by a professional, but the low risk of side effects make acupuncture pens possible for untrained personnel to use if they are sensible and follow the instructions. It is still recommended that a physician be consulted in case there are any other conditions that may exclude TENS related therapies as a sensible option.
Advantages and possible problems of acupuncture pen use
Probably the most obvious advantage of the acupuncture pens on the market, other than the general lack of side effects, is that they are simple equipments and thus fairly cheap, even for high quality pens. The usual cost of a mid-range pen is about the same as a single basic acupuncture session, somewhere in the region of $40-$80. As with all similar products, there are cheap, unreliable and possibly slightly harmful products on sale, but a little research and attention paid to approval certificates and manufacturers credentials should eliminate any risk. The most likely problem with an inferior acupuncture pen is that the levels of electrical stimulation are not regulated as well as might be desired, which in short term use is unlikely to cause any significant problems or damage, but may affect the benefits of use.
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