Recently, research has revealed that the simple act of implanting an electrical stimulator near the spinal cord is enough to give paralyzed patients the ability to move. Apparently, just providing the electrical energy is enough to allow the inborn intelligence of the body to use it for healing.
While the research is leading-edge, the use of energy in healing goes back thousands of years. In ancient China, Egypt, and Persia, they used needles with a flattened pan on top. This flattened area was just large enough to put a pinch of Moxa herb on top. The herb was then lit with fire and allowed to smolder for up to an hour. The burning herb created heat, which traveled down the shaft of the acupuncture needle and provided “heat energy” to the treatment point.
In modern times, we use electricity as the preferred source of energy. Computer-controlled microstim can be precisely applied through select acupuncture needles in a safe and sterile manner. Microstim means that the amplitude of the electrical stimulation is much smaller. This is much more comfortable for the patient, and it can be precisely directed and controlled.
Using microstim with traditional needles, acupuncture channels can be energized and the healing accelerated. In our office, we have used this technique for years to treat long-term neck and back pain as well as cases of failed back surgery. In many cases of failed back surgery or degenerative arthritis, the problem is scar tissue forming around and near the nerves.
We’ve all heard the stories of people forecasting the weather with their back or knees. That is true because these areas of scar tissue have trouble equalizing pressure with adjacent normal tissues. When a low-pressure storm system approaches, these tissues “throb” as the trapped pressures try to equalize with surrounding tissue. Conversely, in a high-pressure system, usually associated with great, sunny weather, these tissues no longer exert extra pressure and patients feel relatively good overall.
Energy is important to the overall function and wellness of the human body. Acupuncture is all about bringing “balance” to the energies of the body. The body is criss-crossed by pathways called meridians. Their function is to carry healing energy throughout the body. Chinese physicians call this qi (pronounced “chi”) energy while chiropractors call it “innate” energy and medical doctors call it “vital” energy. But whatever you want to call it, this energy is important in all aspects of maintaining health in the body.
Adding to the qi energy of the body can greatly accelerate healing. As previously mentioned, applying computer-controlled microstim to cold post-surgical or arthritic areas can revitalize them and allow the body to convert fibrous scar tissue into a healthier sort of tissue. Many times, we will apply a current directly into the scar tissue of old failed surgical sites and the patient feels immediate relief from long-term, disabling spinal pain.
Patients with foot drop or weakness due to long-term radiculopathy have also seen a halt or reversal of a percentage of their condition in some cases. In other cases, it seems to break down long-standing adhesive scar tissue from arthritis or old surgery and allow built-up, inflamed tissues to break down and clear out of the area. The end result of all this is immediate and lasting pain relief and improved neurological function.
In other cases, we have used microstim acupuncture to treat cold conditions such as multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, or infertility. When found, cold meridians can be re-energized using microstim with frequently beneficial results to the underlying condition.
Only a physician experienced in microstim and acupuncture can make the proper determination as to the exact application of the procedure, but combining the ancient with modern techniques can give the benefits of both worlds.
Dr Schwan is a Doctor of Chiropractic and a Diplomat of the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture. He is an author, lecturer, and one-time stand-up comedian. . For more information on alternative medicine, please visit our website at