Edited by David F Mayor
Churchill Livingstone, May 2007
Hardback, 381 pages with a CD, price £44.99
(Reviewed by Tony Brewer, EJOM Vol. 5 No. 6)
This is an impressively comprehensive book with CD-ROM that brings together all the latest progress and information on the different types of electrical stimulation and their application.
The editor has made a determined effort to lead the reader into the subject painlessly. The first two chapters set the scene and the next six go into the science behind the subject; these are very technical and will require constant reference to the list of abbreviations at the front of the book.
In the first chapter in the first part of the book he tries to orientate the reader by giving definitions of the terms used, reasons for doing electroacupuncture, the purpose and use of the book and the CD-ROM. The second chapter gives the historical background to acupuncture and the various forms of electrotherapy and their combination.
Part two starts with an introduction that goes into the methods of research and the problems that are encountered with research. The introduction is excellent and should be read by any acupuncturist who wants to do research.
Chapter three covers the concepts underlying electroacupuncture, lots of diagrams and really for the technically inclined amongst us. Chapter four looks at the effects of electrotherapy and of other forms of stimulation such as sound and lasers. Chapter five deals with neurophysiology with an interesting section on points and channels. Chapter six is about how electroacupuncture works, the effect it has on the mind and the body, the difference between TENS and electroacupuncture and how different frequencies change the way the body reacts. Chapter seven is a continuation of six and covers the vexed question of how electroacupuncture works from a TCM perspective; disappointingly it appears that there is not a clear TCM theory to work from. Chapter eight evaluates the controlled trials that have been done.
Chapter nine and its subsections is the biggest in the book and the one that most practitioners will turn rapidly to. It is the chapter on clinical practice. As well as large, it is comprehensive and there is something there for everyone. My particular field of interest is musculo-skeletal and the chronic conditions arising from the way we live and work, so I went straight to the sections on pain and musculo-skeletal conditions.
The chapter on pain was informative and interesting and the one on musculo-skeletal conditions covers all the normal subjects and identifies the need for a multidiscipline approach to chronic pain. The rest of the conditions are well covered with many helpful suggestions on different treatment strategies. The summary at the end of each chapter is clear and the recommended reading list impressive.
The CD-ROM is packed full of diagrams, and information that is largely covered in the book, but being able to blow up the diagrams and in particular the x-ray on the shoulder is helpful. I was confused about the five element diagram: why is the colour associated with the wood element blue? Despite this the CD-ROM is a welcome and useful addition to the book.
This is a substantial book that shows the editor's passion for the subject and brings the information and scholarship to an area that has been poorly covered in the past. However, the book is written from the western medical perspective and does not explain how a TCM practitioner can integrate electroacupuncture into their practice from a TCM perspective. This is really a book for western trained practitioners who use acupuncture techniques and those TCM practitioners with a special interest in the subject. To make the book all inclusive the definition of acupuncture used is so broad it is useless. Also, a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine is by definition a medical practitioner, so the concept of a non-medical acupuncturist is nonsense. The editor can add another abbreviation to his list, UAT, a user of acupuncture techniques.
Tony Brewer trained as a physiotherapist and as an acupuncturist with the Acupuncture Association, ICOM, and in Nanjing. He gives postgraduate workshops in the treatment of musculo-skeletal conditions.