Treating Children with Acupuncture

Written by: Dr. Tony Willcox, D.O.M., A.P | Sep 26, 2013

Treating Children with Acupuncture

Treating children with acupuncture is not an exceedingly common practice. In most cases, both parents and practitioners shy away from the prospect based on the common fear of needles in children. Additionally, it can be difficult to convince a child to participate in a treatment that involves needles. Beyond all of these concerns, however, lies the reality of the fact that acupuncture can be a safe and effective treatment for a range of conditions in children. When acupuncturists are able to establish a bond of trust with children, the process can ultimately be a very positive experience.

Is Acupuncture Safe For Children?

One of the first concerns that parents have in regards to any treatment for their children is the question of safety. Though there have been relatively few studies performed, at present all assessments suggest that acupuncture is a completely safe treatment for children, with side effects generally being no more severe than slight pain and nausea, and, of course, crying. Overall, the side effect profile for acupuncture in children is no more, and in most cases, less severe and less common than the side effects for other medications and treatments routinely given to children.

Conditions Treated In Children

There is a wide range of conditions that acupuncture is used to treat in children. Among the most common are allergies, migraines, and ADHD. When compared with mainstream medical treatments, it is not uncommon for children to report greater improvement when treated with acupuncture, or jointly with acupuncture and a more traditional treatment. For example, in children with amblyopia, significantly greater improvement was seen in children given three months of acupuncture in comparison to children who wore an eye patch for three months.

Linking Acupuncture and Mainstream Medicine

Acupuncture for children has even been endorsed and practiced by major mainstream medical institutions, like Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where there is a specific children’s acupuncture clinic. At Children’s Hospital, practitioners – who are specially trained to work with children who express anxiety about needles – treat conditions ranging from asthma to cancer-related pain to sickle cell anemia. The endorsement of acupuncture treatments for children by such a well-regarded medical institution should be seen as a significant affirmation that acupuncture can be both safe and highly effective.

While it can take acupuncturists a greater effort to build rapport with children than with adult patients, the effectiveness of the treatment cannot be denied. Through explanation, demonstration, and a soothing demeanor, acupuncturists can learn to work with children, helping to relieve a wide variety of ills and restore the flow of Qi.