Do Kids Really Get Acupuncture??

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Do Kids Really Get Acupuncture??

kids-lawnmower

 

Do Kids Really Get Acupuncture?!?

I can’t tell you how often I get this question. Parents look at me with shock and surprise when I say that I treat kids with acupuncture.  Many parents wonder how kids sit still and whether they are afraid of needles.  In reality, using acupuncture techniques with children looks very different than it does with adults.  Once parents see how easy it is for their kids to get treated with acupuncture techniques, they often prefer to try it before other interventions because it is less invasive and has no unwanted side effects.  With children, the treatment always depends on the child.

Shoni Shin massage

shonishin tools

Japanese Shoni Shin Tools

When kids come in to see me, there are toys and books for them to play with. If they’re small, they often sit on a parent’s lap or on the table or floor with a parent.  I always start with Shoni Shin massage of the meridians. Shoni Shin is a pediatric massage practice from Japan that uses small metal tools on the surface of the body.  Kids (who are past the stage of putting everything in their mouths) can play with them and use them on their parent before we use them for treatment.  In the above picture, my patient is using the tool we call ‘the lawnmower’ on my arm.  I always explain that just like when they get a cut, the body can heal itself, and we are helping the body to heal itself.

pediatric cupping

Cupping With Soft Silicone Cups

Once we’ve done a general Shoni Shin massage, I might do some targeted gua sha or cupping if the child’s condition warrants it (for allergies or asthma for instance).  Gua Sha is done with a soup spoon like my little patient is holding in the picture below.  It is a scraping technique for the upper back that we do through the clothes until the skin turns pink. Cupping is similarly done until the skin turns pink. Unlike celebrity pictures you may have seen with cupping bruises, kids don’t need to get bruises to see a therapeutic effect.

 

Point Stimulation

After that, I will target certain points on the body just like I would with an adult, but using different tools.  I have a point stimulator (I call it a ‘blinky’ because it has a blinking green light that kids like to watch) which sends a very mild current to the acupuncture point to stimulate it.  Another tool I use is a cold laser, which excites the tissue at the point. Both of these draw the brain’s attention to the acupuncture point in a similar way to needles.

kidslaser

Red or Blue Cold Laser

 

 

kidsblinky

Point Stimulation With The ‘Blinky’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes I do use (the smallest, thinnest) needles with kids.  I call them ‘taps’ because they are only tapped in shallowly and then removed immediately.  I try to be attuned to their personality and preferences, and I never pressure them to try taps.  Toddlers are the hardest age to use taps – some are totally open to it, but some are just too squirmy.  Taps are usually easy to use with babies.  For older kids, I explain how taps work and usually demonstrate on their parent. If they want to try taps, they get a prize. If not, no big deal. Every child will leave with stickers regardless!

Homework

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At every appointment I give parents massage homework with points and techniques to do every day to prolong the treatment effect.  I also offer dietary advice and may recommend an herbal tincture to address the child’s issue.

 

Acupuncture and pediatric massage can help kids with a long list of issues, such as chronic ear infections, anxiety, asthma, allergies, difficulty putting on weight, sleep troubles, digestive issues like GERD and constipation, ADD/ADHD and more.

If you’re not sure how your child will react to these various acupuncture techniques, you can make an appointment for a pediatric wellness visit. A pediatric wellness visit is a 20-30 minute session that includes checking breath sounds and ears, Shonishin massage, and an introduction to the non-needle tools of pediatric ‘acupuncture’.  It is not a time to address specific health concerns that require a complete intake, but it is great for exposing your child to the idea of acupuncture-based techniques and seeing how they react.

 

 

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