Is Acupuncture OK for Kids?


Acupuncture and Chinese medicine have gained rapid acceptance in Australia. Once an unfamiliar “new” treatment it has now transitioned to the mainstream as a registered health profession. As acupuncture usually involves the insertion of fine pins to stimulate specific acupuncture points the question is often asked, is it suitable for children? The answer is yes and there are options suitable for even the most sensitive patient, including children.  Some children actually enjoy the classical acupuncture treatment, especially when given by registered acupuncturists who are experienced with children’s acupuncture. As for children who are not keen on pins there are also effective no-needle treatments available.

If your child is willing to try pins here are some things to consider. The single-use, pre-sterilised, fine solid pins are completely different to a needle for injection. Depending on the condition, treatment is usually painless. Children’s bodies are more dynamic than adult’s which means that pins are usually inserted and immediately removed, whereas in the case of adults the needles are usually retained for about 20 minutes.  This approach of inserting and immediately removing the pin is typically used, for example, when treating babies for colic.

If a child is completely averse to the pin approach then there are other methods to stimulate the acupuncture points. Traditionally specialized massage techniques are applied to acupuncture points for young children instead of using needles. Moxibustion, where acupuncture points are gently warmed, is another needleless approach suitable for some conditions.  In the modern acupuncture clinic it is also common to treat sensitive clients (both children and adults) with laser instead to create a truly needle-free treatment. Either infra-red or visible red laser are used to stimulate acupuncture points.

Acupuncture is part of the Chinese medical model and as such treatment can also involve dietary advice, herbal medicine and/or an exercise prescription. Why would a child come for acupuncture in the first place? Headaches, digestive upsets, colic, sleep problems, lethargy, recurrent respiratory infections and back and limb pain are common complaints which can bring children to an acupuncturist. Ian and Stephen are both experienced with treating children.