Study finds acupuncture effective treatment for chronic pain in children

It is upsetting to see anyone in pain, but it's especially heartbreaking to watch a child endure chronic pain.
In addition to the suffering itself, chronic pain can cause traumatic effects on a child's quality of life, and it can have significant physical, psychological and social consequences. Making matters worse, chronic pain greatly can affect the child's parents or caregivers by causing feelings of helplessness and inadequacy.
Treating children with chronic pain can be complex, due to kids' vulnerability while they're growing and fear of causing long-term effects. Data about the safety and efficacy of therapeutic options for children is limited.
"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," says Angela Johnson, MSTOM, MPH, practitioner of Chinese medicine of Rush's Cancer Integrative Medicine Program.
Johnson led a recent study at Rush that found that acupuncture may be a safe and effective adjunctive integrative medicine treatment for chronic pain in pediatric patients. Results of the study were published in the December 2015 issue of Alternative and Complementary Therapies.
"While acupuncture has been shown to reduce pain in adults, there is very little data on whether it's effective in children." Johnson says. "This study looked at the effect of acupuncture in children directly, rather than examining data collected from adults. This focus is especially important, since children experience pain in different ways than adults."