As a family acupuncturist, I truly enjoy treating kids of all ages. I have worked with kids ranging in age from a few weeks old to teens treating conditions such as anxiety, stress, common cold, digestive complaints, cerebral ataxia, ADHD, ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), and sports injuries. Many people are intrigued that kids and their parents would entertain the idea of acupuncture and always have loads of questions. Here are a few answers to some of the most common questions regarding pediatric acupuncture.
Studies have been conducted to answer this very question regarding the safety of acupuncture. A review of serious adverse events by White et al. found the risk of a major complication occurring to have an incidence between 1:10,000 and 1:100,000, which is considered “very low.” In 2011, researchers reviewed 37 pediatric acupuncture studies and concluded that when acupuncture is performed by properly trained practitioners acupuncture is safe for children. The National Institutes of Health Consensus Statement states, “One of the advantages of acupuncture is that the incidence of adverse effects is substantially lower than that of many drugs or other accepted procedures for the same conditions.”
Not only is acupuncture safe but it is also well received by children. A qualitative interview study conducted on patients at the Children’s Hospital in Boston found that 67% of pediatric patients and 60% of parents reported acupuncture to be a positive. Among these children with chronic pain who have been treated with acupuncture, 70% self reported and 59% of their parents reported that acupuncture improved the child’s chronic pain (Kemper et al. 2000).
There are many treatment modalities that can be used to treat kids. Some children are happy to receive acupuncture needles. However, there are many techniques including shallow needle insertion, needleless acupuncture point stimulation, massage, sho ni shin (a superficial Japanese pediatric treatment style), herbal treatment, moxa, and pediatric electro-stimulation that can be used to effectively treat children. Most children look forward to their treatments.