Acupuncture helps ease tonsillectomy pain

A new study suggests the needle pricking technique involved in acupuncture alleviates pain in kids after undergoing surgery to remove their tonsils.

For years, codeine was prescribed for pain relief after surgery for tonsillectomy. However, in February 2013, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of the drug after the procedure because of risks and complications.

Since the post-surgical pain often lasts up to 10 days in children, medics were on the look-out for an alternative to codeine. Researchers found acupuncture to be an effective technique in helping ease pain post surgery.

Lead researcher, Dr. James Ochi, a San Diego pediatric ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon stated, “No matter who performs the surgery or how it’s done, children often experience pain for ten days after tonsillectomy, even longer for adults. It’s extremely gratifying to see a safe and drug free treatment such as acupuncture reduce the pain and discomfort in children after surgery.”

Benefits of acupuncture assessed
In order to ascertain whether acupuncture can benefit children suffering from tonsillectomy pain the researchers carried out a study. He recruited 56 patients ranging from two to 17 years in the Children’s Hospital and Health Center in San Diego. For the purpose of the trial, 31 subjects received treatment with acupuncture for pain relief after their tonsillectomy.

Before the acupuncture treatment, the patients reportedly experienced an average pain level of 5.52 out of 10. However, following a 15 minute session of needle therapy, the intensity of pain plummeted to 1.92. As per the parents of the kids the benefits conferred by acupuncture lasted for approximately 2½ days. Moreover, no adverse reactions were perceived as a result of the needle inserting technique.

Dr. Ochi stated, “I’ve been using medical acupuncture for years to help my patients suffer less pain after surgery. Now that it is unsafe to use codeine for these kids, I wanted to see if acupuncture without the use of narcotics was helpful for my patients. Acupuncture in general has been shown to be effective in reducing pain, is safe and can be done quickly at minimal cost.”

The study was published in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology.

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