In this episode we take on the question of Can Children Really Get Acupuncture?

Today’s Everyday Acupuncture Podcast question is answered by Rebecca Avern of the Panda Clinic in Oxford, UK


Can children really have acupuncture?

I’m Rebecca Avern, a paediatric acupuncturist at The Panda Clinic and The Little Acupuncture Room in Oxford UK.  

When I tell people what I do for a living, a common response is – can children really have acupuncture?  

The simple answer to that question is a resounding ‘yes’.  And I’m going to explain to you why.

Firstly, acupuncture is a lot more than purely needles.  It includes many other, non-insertive techniques that are both gentle and effective, and that are often used with children.  These involve medical massage (specifically a system called paediatric tui na) and techniques that involve using small tools to gently stroke and tap the acupuncture channels.  There are also some really useful modern innovations which are often used with children, such as small seeds which can be stuck on acupuncture points and low-level laser pens which can be used as an alternative to needles.

Despite what you might think, when approached in the right way the majority of children are actually OK with having acupuncture needles!  The needles we use even finer than those used on adults – they may be just .12mm thick.  A skilled paediatric practitioner will have developed a child-friendly needle technique which means that the child will barely feel the needle.  Also, and crucially important, when working with children, the needles are never retained so there is no need for an energetic three year old to have to stay still!  

A good paediatric acupuncturist will make a decision with each individual child as to which of the many tools they have available is most suitable and, crucially, which will be best-tolerated by that child.  

They will understand the importance of a child feeling good about their acupuncture treatments.  Rapport is everything in medicine, but even more so when it comes to children.  The acupuncturist will prioritise building a therapeutic relationship with the child, ensuring they feel safe and relaxed.  

So, hopefully, you can now understand that acupuncture is actually more than possible with children, and that there are many gentle, non-needle techniques that are used.  Most kids actually really enjoy their treatments!

I would like to add one more point which is not directly answering our original question but which is nevertheless hugely important.  Acupuncture is effective in the treatment of many, many childhood conditions, both physical, mental and emotional.  There is an ever-increasing body of research which highlight its benefits in a diverse range of conditions, from bedwetting, to ADHD, to colic, to cerebral palsy to name but a few.  

Finally, when looking for a practitioner, do find one who has some specialist training in paediatrics.  

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