ETPS, which stands for electro-therapeutic point stimulation, has shown some promise in the laboratory, but not because of the acupuncture points it supposedly relies upon.
For those who have never heard of it, ETPS Therapy is a combination of acupuncture, massage, electrotherapy and physical therapy. It relies upon the use of a device or electrode wand that looks much like a digital thermometer which is used to relax muscles and relieve pressed nerves. This kind of stimulation releases endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers, which temporarily relieve pain.
However, it’s important to note that ETPS is widely practiced in New Age circles by people who believe in the alleged existence of a putative energy force that travels through the body along pathways known as meridians. They believe that this energy sometimes need to be rebalanced, and that emotions and other energy blockages are often “locked” into scars and can be released by using ETPS to stimulate key acupuncture points associated with fear, anxiety, anger, worry and grief.
Of course, none of this is scientifically substantiated. Whatever relief the patient feels is the result of the release of the body’s pain-killing endorphins and has nothing to do with the flow of “chi”.
While acupuncture has never been proven to work in the laboratory, other forms of electrical stimulation have shown promise. In fact, in this small study, patients treated with ETPS realized short-term pain relief; however, “future randomized trials are needed for comparing ETPS to alternative treatments.”
It’s also very important to note that insurers are not onboard with ETPS.
According to this statement from Aetna, ETPS is considered to be experimental and investigational for the treatment of chronic pain and other indications because of insufficient evidence regarding its effectiveness.