Transcutaneous Electrical Acustimulation
What is it?
Transcutaneous electrical acustimulation involves applying a low-intensity electrical current to acupuncture points. Acustimulation is different from electroacupuncture because needles aren’t used. It is also different than transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), which doesn’t use acupuncture points.
Acustimulation is most commonly used for nausea and vomiting or pain after surgery. It is also used for other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support its other uses.
Possibly Effective for …
- Nausea and vomiting after surgery. Most research shows that using acustimulation during and after surgery helps to prevent and treat nausea and vomiting after surgery. Most studies used a specific acustimulation band (ReliefBand). This band is often worn on the wrist starting 30 minutes before surgery and left on the wrist for up to 72 hours after surgery. Acustimulation might also be beneficial when used along with drugs for nausea and vomiting. But it is unknown if it can be used in place of conventional antiemetics. Acustimulation doesn’t seem to help reduce nausea and vomiting after certain procedures that have a higher risk of causing nausea and vomiting.
- Pain after surgery. Most research shows that acustimulation prior to, during, and/or after surgery reduces pain after surgery. In some people it also reduces how much pain medicine is needed 1-2 days after surgery.
Possibly Ineffective for …
- Nausea and vomiting caused by cancer drug treatment. Most research shows that acustimulation doesn’t help reduce nausea and vomiting caused by cancer drugs.
Insufficient Evidence to Make a Determination for …
- Alcohol use disorder. Early research shows that acustimulation reduces symptoms and cravings in people being treated for alcohol use disorder.
- A long-term disorder of the large intestines that causes stomach pain (irritable bowel syndrome or IBS). Acustimulation might improve symptoms such as feelings of gas and pressure in people with IBS.
- Motion sickness. Early research shows that acustimulation reduces discomfort during driving in people with motion sickness.
- Neck pain. Early research shows that acustimulation may reduce neck pain when used along with standard exercises.
- A type of anxiety marked by recurrent thoughts and repetitive behaviors (obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD). Early research shows that adding acustimulation to standard therapy for OCD might slightly improve symptoms.
- Impaired movement of food through the intestines after surgery. Early research shows that acustimulation may help improve the movement of food through the intestines after surgery. This helps to improve bowel movements and appetite.
- Sleep problems after surgery. Early research shows that acustimulation may help improve sleep after surgery.
- Anxiety before surgery. Early research shows that acustimulation may help improve feelings of calmness before surgery.
- A disorder that causes repeated episodes of nausea and vomiting (cyclic vomiting syndrome or CVS).
- High blood pressure.
- Indigestion (dyspepsia).
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Persistent heartburn.
- Withdrawal from heroin, morphine, and other opioid drugs.
- Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate acustimulation for these uses.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn’t enough reliable information to know if acustimulation is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. But there’s no reason to believe that it might be harmful.
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