Managing pain associated with chronic illness is a difficult task for adults, but is often even harder for children. One reason is that children are not able to communicate their pain needs as effectively as adults. Research shows that anywhere from 30-70 percent of pediatric patients with a chronic illness experience pain, and that many of those suffering do not receive adequate pain relief.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle faced in treating pediatric patients is the limited options when it comes to pain management. Due to serious side effects, certain narcotics and other pain medications are not safe for use in children. Rush University Medical Center is now offering acupuncture therapy as an alternative pain treatment for pediatric patients diagnosed with chronic illnesses as part of a research study.
Doctors at Rush have started a study that combines aspects of both Chinese and Western medicine, and aims to study how acupuncture may help in reducing pain and increasing quality of life for children suffering from chronic illnesses. This treatment will be offered to patients between the ages of 5 and 20 who have pain. Participants in the study will be eligible to receive a series of acupuncture treatments at no charge.
Acupuncture therapy is based on the belief that there are channels of energy flowing through the body that are essential for good health. When there is no longer pain blocking the flow of energy, normal health can be restored. By inserting thin needles at various points in the body, certain chemicals are released in the brain, helping to decrease the perception of pain.
Currently, acupuncture therapy is being offered at Rush for patients suffering from the pain of chronic illness and side effects like nausea, fatigue, and vomiting caused by intensive treatments. The National Institute of Health has released a statement suggesting that acupuncture may also help with migraines, headaches, fibromyalgia, arthritis, and low back pain in both children and adults.
Rather than waiting until all conventional treatment options have been exhausted, doctors recommend that parents explore alternative approaches such as acupuncture right away. These treatments can be helpful in pain and stress relief, and can have a positive effect on the child’s quality of life throughout his or her illness.
Reduced Pain in Pediatric Patients Study - Rush University Medical Center, Chicago IL