About SSP

What is SSP therapy?

Silver Spike Point (SSP) therapy stimulates the acupressure points by placing SSP electrodes and electrifying low-frequency waves. Originating from Chinese acupuncture anesthesia, SSP therapy is also called Needle less acupuncture. The therapy was invented by the Department of Anesthesiology at Osaka Medical College, and developed through industry-university joint development with Nihon Medix. This therapy was introduced abroad as acupuncture-like transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (AL-TENS).
SSP therapy has been used or studied as an electrical stimulation therapy to fight pain in medical facilities for over 40 years. SSP therapy can offer effects close to acupuncture without needles, enabling pain-free, fear-free and sanitary use.
* SSP is a registered trademark of Nihon Medix Co., Ltd.

SSP electrodes

SSP electrodes are silver-plated metal electrodes with a unique conical shaped tip to enhance electrical conductivity. An experiment conducted by applying potassium iodide, which turns black when electrification is high, to an SSP electrode and electrifying it, discovered that the electrical current concentrates at the electrode tip in proportion to the pressure distribution on the pressed object. It also became clear that a disc-shaped rim simultaneously allows the passage of some electrical current, which acts as automatic protection against excessive current.
Using this electrode, electrifying therapeutic points such as acupressure points at a high-density became possible.

  • Electrical current flows intensively through the point on the skin where the electrode contacts the skin at the highest pressure.
  • Electrical current concentrates at the electrode tip, and flows through the therapeutic point.
  • The disc-shaped rim also receives pressure, and the electrical current flows through the rim. This acts as automatic protection against excessive current.

SSP electrode

SSP electrode(Suction type)

Image of treatment

Sample of Acupressure points

SSP therapy products

Therapeutic points

SSP therapy goes beyond treating the therapeutic points of Oriental medicine, enabling also using those of Western medicine including tender points, trigger points and motor points. Among them, the most used therapeutic points in SSP therapy are the 3 acupressure points, gokoku, kyokuchi and ashisanri, which have systemic effects. These acupressure points may be used individually, but better effects can be obtained by stimulating acupressure and other points such as tender points together, depending on the symptoms.

Action mechanisms

SSP therapy approaches pain based on two action mechanisms: the Gate control theory similar to TENS and descending inhibition not used in TENS. Actual treatment is performed by giving low frequency stimulation of 1 to 3 to basic therapeutic points, including gokoku, kyokuchi and ashisanri, to promote producing morphine-like substances through the descending inhibition. This enables long-lasting effects. By stimulating the treatment sites with at least 500 Hz, fast-acting effects based on the Gate control theory can be incorporated in the therapy to address a wide range of symptoms.

SSP therapy history

The birth of SSP therapy units

In 1976, when Nihon Medix was established, the Osaka Medical College, which had implemented low-frequency electrical acupuncture therapy, consulted with us concerning therapy units free of needle breakage and electric corrosion. We knew that Professor Masayoshi Hyoudou of the Department of Anesthesiology, which has been working with the pain clinic at the Osaka Medical College for a long time, had studied the most effective method to electrify from the body surface without using needles (TENS in Western medicine) instead of low-frequency electrical acupuncture therapy. We started joint industry-university research with examinations of materials and electrode shapes, conducting clinical experiments. After about one and a half years, the first silver skin surface electrode was experimentally produced. Measurements and statistics in about 300 cases were examined for this trial model. Modifications were made based on these data, and the relationship between the pain and the elevation rate of the pain threshold level was studied using electrification stimulation. The SSP electrode finally reached completion with the seventh generation prototype.

Prototype of SSP electrode

Result of energization test

Image of experimental work

Waveform research also progressed in parallel with the development of the SSP electrode. Every conceivable waveform was examined using an oscilloscope and other research tools; we finally concluded that the best waveform for the metal electrode was the Bi-directionality symmetrical wave.

Thus the first generation of SSP therapy units using SSP electrodes and the Bi-directionality symmetrical wave, REVIVE was completed. This was the birth of the SSP therapeutic instrument, fusing Western and Oriental medicine together.

Expansion of SSP therapy

The SSP therapeutic instrument, which was born for pain relief, has widely spread to fields ranging from acupuncture to the medical field, because it has less infection risk than low-frequency wave electrical acupuncture therapy and arouses no fear of needles. SSP therapy originally started with pain clinics and anesthesiology departments, but applications have been reported from other fields as research has progressed. Major examples include a wide range of applications: cervical spondylosis, sciatica and pretreatment for orthopedic rehabilitation, reducing constipation in internal medicine, temporomandibular disorder in dentistry and dental surgery, visual fatigue in ophthalmology and facial palsy in otolaryngology.
SSP therapy units then moved abroad. Exports of SSP therapy units to Korea, China, Australia and other countries started after a presentation at the International Association for the Study of Pain and a lecture at UCLA.

Present and future of SSP therapy units

SSP therapy units have continued to evolve from the initial step of development, always including adding operation modes and readjusting waveforms to pursue further efficacy. The latest wave form, MF multistage waveform, improved the depth of the stimulation from 2 cm to 4 cm as compared with existing waveforms.
Over 50,000 SPP therapy units have been sold for use in hospitals and clinics worldwide.

Japan is currently facing a super-aging society before the rest of the world, and the demand for pain treatment including palliative care and terminal care is expected to increase. Measures in concert with medical services and human services, such as improving the healthy life expectancy and providing effective rehabilitation are also required much more than ever before.
We will continue to move forward with research and development, working with medical facilities to resolve these issues as much as possible.

SSP Therapy Clinical Guide

A Guide to SSP Therapy(PDF file)