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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 404956, 5 pages
Research Article

Comparison of Electroacupuncture in Restrained and Unrestrained Rat Models

1Neuroscience Research Institute & Department of Neurobiology, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Peking University, 38 Xueyuan Road, Beijing 100191, China
2Center for Integrative Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Maryland, 685 W. Baltimore Street, MSTF Rm 8-22, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA
3Key Laboratory for Neuroscience, Ministry of Education/National Health and Family Planning Commission, Peking University, 38 Xueyuan Road, Beijing 100191, China

Received 22 December 2012; Revised 10 April 2013; Accepted 22 April 2013

Academic Editor: Xinyan Gao

Copyright © 2013 Haolin Zhang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Acupuncture and electroacupuncture (EA) are widely used to treat a variety of diseases including pain. In preclinical research, EA is usually applied by inserting acupuncture needles into the hindlimbs of rats restrained in small tubes or bags. This restrained model of EA not only causes stress-like behaviors but also is limited in stimulating locations and intensities. In 2004, a novel, unrestrained model of EA was introduced. However, these two EA methods have never been directly compared regarding their analgesic effects and other features such as stress. In the present study, we reported similar analgesic effects between restrained and unrestrained EA in rats of acute inflammatory pain induced by intraplantar injection of CFA. In addition, rats receiving unrestrained EA showed less significant stress-like behaviors and tolerated higher current intensity. These advantages suggest that this unrestrained EA method can replace the traditional restrained procedure with similar analgesic effects and allow for more choices of stimulating intensities and locations.