Acupuncture Provides Relief for Children with Chronic Pain

January 21, 2016
Caitlyn Fitzpatrick

Although children are also sufferers of chronic pain, the vast majority of research on treatment and just the condition in general is focused on adults. But a pain-relieving technique that has already proven its efficacy in the older population appears to be beneficial in the younger as well.

Although children are also sufferers of chronic pain, the vast majority of research on treatment and just the condition in general is focused on adults. But a pain-relieving technique that has already proven its efficacy in the older population appears to be beneficial in the younger as well.

Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois studied a non-medication approach to providing pain relief to children with chronic pain. Acupuncture is an East Asian technique where needles are inserted into the skin in order to stimulate various points on the body. It can be used for many different conditions and dates back to more than 2,000 years ago. Acupuncture appears to be an effective way to do just that, without the addictive worries of opioids.

“Effective treatment of pain can be particularly difficult because it’s subjective; but with children, it is increasingly difficult because a child may not be able to communicate effectively depending on the age and accurate recognition of pain,” first author Angela Johnson, MSTOM, MPH, said in a news release.

  • The MD Magazine Chronic Pain condition center

The team evaluated 55 adolescents between the ages 7 and 20 with chronic pain conditions. The acupuncture treatments were tailored for each patient, but each one lasted 30 minutes and they could receive up to eight.

Every patient experienced a significant decline in pain levels by the end of their treatments, according to the report published in Alternative and Complementary Therapies. The biggest relief was reported in earlier treatments, but the reduction continued progressively until the end. Patients felt pain relief after each treatment, and, in addition, they experienced a great reduction in health, emotional, social, and educational problems.

“Acupuncture provides an amazing alternative to chronic pain medication. This is especially true for patients who may have to cope with pain for most of their life, including those who have sickle cell anemia and aftereffects of cancer. In addition, it helps with anxiety and depression,” explained Co-principal investigator Paul Kent, MD.

Kent said that he’s even had patients who have were able to be completely weaned off of pain medication by receiving acupuncture. The findings indicate that acupuncture is an effective approach to pain relief without the potentially addictive medications.

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