Acupuncture for children is not very common in the United States. It has been used to treat a number of chronic conditions in children, though, such as migraines and back pain. Another use of acupuncture for children is in treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), endometriosis in girls, and allergies as well as asthma. Some doctors also use acupuncture to relieve pain after children's surgeries.
Parents and doctors may decide to use acupuncture for children when traditional treatments and medications do not seem to be effective. Acupuncture can allow a child to take less medication, such as pain killers or asthma medicines, which in turn reduces the risk of side effects such as drowsiness. Many acupuncturists work with medical doctors to develop a plan for treatment.
Usually, acupuncture for children is used for chronic conditions, both mental and physical. Children suffering from migraines or chronic pain have reported a significant reduction in pain after receiving acupuncture. Acupuncture can also be used alongside pain killers to reduce side effects, particularly vomiting and nausea. Endometriosis is chronic condition that acupuncture has been used to treat. Girls who have begun menstruating can suffer from the condition, which causes the lining of the uterus to grow in other parts of the body.
The treatment may help children who have allergies or asthma as well. Some patients use acupuncture in addition to taking allergy medication. Unlike antihistamines, acupuncture does not result in drowsiness.
Other uses for acupuncture for children include mental conditions such as depression and ADHD. Parents who would prefer to avoid giving their children a lot of medication to treat ADHD or depression may chose to try alternative therapies, including acupuncture. Usually, acupuncture for ADHD is given in the ear area, as that area has been shown to be the most effective. Acupuncture for depression may be performed in the area of the knees or head to help improve the flow of energy in the nervous system.
One roadblock to the use of acupuncture for children is that many children are scared of the needles required for the treatment. Before beginning the treatment, some doctors demonstrate on the child's parents to show that the needles are not painful. Another way to make children comfortable around acupuncture needles is to demonstrate on the child's hand or even on a stuffed animal. Parents who want to try acupuncture on their children should make sure to see a licensed professional.