Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Pain Management Health Center

Font Size

Kids Get Pain Relief from Acupuncture

Headaches, Body Pain Cut by 50%

WebMD Health News

Oct. 15, 2002 -- Once considered on the fringe of even "alternative" medicine, acupuncture has made great strides into the mainstream. Now, research shows it offers kids significant relief from chronic headaches, stomachaches, back pain, and other ills -- without any side effects.

Headaches are a serious problem for many children, affecting school attendance, academic performance, social development, and interpersonal relationships, says Yuan-Chi Lin, MD, a researcher at Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital in Boston.

"But we have found that acupuncture is an effective complementary therapy for pediatric headache management," says Lin.

In traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is believed to open channels of energy that run in patterns through the body, correcting imbalances and increasing energy. Researchers today believe that acupuncture needles stimulate the nervous system to release chemicals and hormones that relieve pain and influence the body's own internal regulating system.

More than one-third of pain treatment centers in the U.S. provide acupuncture as a therapy, he adds.

In his study, 243 patients aged 6 months to 18 years received acupuncture treatments for one year for a variety of complaints, including lower back, hip, and lower extremity pain, abdominal pain, and headaches.

Before treatment, the children gave their pain an average score of 8 on a scale of 1-10, where 10 was most painful. A year later, the average score was a 3. There were no reported side effects or complications related to the treatments.

"Patients reported missing less school, having better sleep patterns, and being able to participate in more extracurricular activities," Lin says.

Talking with the child can help overcome any fear of needles -- the treatment's only potential drawback. Also, the pain relief itself serves as positive reinforcement.

"Through careful explanation and demonstration, children are not afraid of acupuncture and can tolerate treatments very well with minimal discomfort," says Lin.

In his study, children felt less fear and tolerated treatments very well once the procedure was carefully explained and demonstrated for them, he adds. Some patients feel slight discomfort when the needles are inserted, but once in place, the needles cause no pain. The pain relief helps make up for the discomfort, he says. -->

Today on WebMD

pain in brain and nerves
Top causes and how to find relief.
knee exercise
8 exercises for less knee pain.
acupuncture needles in woman's back
How it helps arthritis, migraines, and dental pain.
chronic pain
Get personalized tips to reduce discomfort.
illustration of nerves in hand
lumbar spine
Woman opening window
Man holding handful of pills
Woman shopping for vegetables
Sore feet with high heel shoes
acupuncture needles in woman's back
man with a migraine