Acupuncture has come a long way since it originated in ancient China. The alternative medicine is now being practiced widely in Western countries and now, experts believe that acupuncture can be a possible option for easing chronic pain of children with complex medical conditions.
According to a new research published by Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, Minnesota, the low-risk and non-toxic qualities of acupuncture can be beneficial for children suffering from complex medical conditions such as cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, and other brain and musculoskeletal disorders.
Kids with complex medical conditions often undergo drug treatments that induce sleepiness, make them gain weight, and experience intense mood swings. Dr. Scott Schwantes, a pediatrician at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare and the study's lead author, said these effects can be a burden to both the patient and his/her family.
Acupuncture is the process of stimulating specific points on the body by puncturing the skin using thin needles. The practice is said to relieve headaches or migraines, osteoarthritis/knee pain, neck pain, and low-back pain, the National Institutes of Health listed.
Some acupuncturists also claim that the procedure can be used as anesthesia. The idea of using acupuncture as anesthesia originally came from China, but the United States is doing it now as well. Other purposes of acupuncture include treating allergies, asthma, acid reflux, and irritable bowel syndrome, according to the Wisconsin Public Radio News.
Schwantes said children with complex medical conditions often go through physical and emotional pain that can lower their quality of life. Acupuncture, which is usually a 30-minute procedure, is a refreshing experience for these kids and can decrease the pain they are feeling or completely alleviate it. However, acupuncture may be a problem for children with needle phobia, EurekAlert reported.
Parents who are considering acupuncture for their sick children should exercise some precautions. The NIH said acupuncture is generally safe when done by an experienced and well-trained practitioner, but it can cause serious side effects when done improperly and with non-sterile needles. Improper acupuncture can cause infections, collapsed lungs, punctured organs, and central nervous system injuries.
Majority of states in the U.S. require acupuncturists to have a license, certification, or registration to practice the treatment. These states oblige practitioners to have a diploma from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine for licensing. When considering an acupuncturist, you should also ask about their training and experience in the field.
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