CHICAGO - Chinese culture has turned to acupuncture for pain treatment for more than 5,000 years. Now, studies in the U.S. are trying to find out if this ancient medical art is more than just a legend.
More than 3 million adults and 150,000 kids turned to acupuncture for their ailments in 2008. Experts are hoping to find the science behind what one girl calls her "only source" of relief.
"It's a constant, throbbing pain that never goes away," said Jessica Velez. "It's 24/7, everyday."
A slew of ER trips, MRIs and spinal taps turned up bizarre results. Jessica was diagnosed with daily persistent headache syndrome - a mysterious chronic headache disorder.
When medication failed, she turned to Rush University Medical Center acupuncturist Angela Johnson.
"Acupuncture is not the 'magic bullet' for everybody, but it's certainly, certainly worth the try," said Johnson, a Chinese medicine practitioner.
It's based on the idea that so-called pressure points control energy flow through the body. One study found acupuncture switches off the brain's response to pain - kind of like it's sleeping. Another study shows 70 percent of kids said acupuncture helped their symptoms.
"Studies do show that there's absolutely a biochemical, physiological impact that acupuncture can have," said Johnson. "After she [Jessica] put only a few needles in, the pain almost went down to a five out of 10."
Experts said using a licensed acupuncturist is important. You can find one at nccaom.org.
Rush University Medical Center is still enrolling kids in the study to see if acupuncture improves their quality of life. Participants have to be between 5 and 20 years old and experiencing pain.
CHILDREN SUFFERING FROM CHRONIC PAIN: New Daily Persistent Headache Syndrome (NDPH), is a condition where headaches occur for more than three full months. With these headaches, at least two of the following pain conditions occur: mild to moderate intensity, pulsating or pressure pains, vomiting, and nausea, according to Health Central. New daily persistent headaches may not be the most severe in pain but they are the most debilitating. Symptoms of NDPH are similar to those of migraines in that the patient becomes sensitive to light and sound as well as pain in one side or both sides of the head. Most patients suffering from NDPH have never experienced headaches or migraines before. The sudden onset can begin with infection in the body, stress, or surgery. (SOURCE: About.com)
CURRENT PAIN TREATMENTS: Pain treatment for headaches truly depends on the person and the severity of his or her pain. Furthermore, the location is important as well so doctors know what kind of pain and where the pain is located for proper treatment. In addition, headaches cannot be cured, yet they can be controlled. Medication is one treatment. Certain medications can be prescribed for pain, nausea and vomiting. Other personal changes can be made as well as lifestyle changes like: relaxation treatment, stress management, and personal counseling. Occasionally, over the counter medications such as Advil and Ibuprofen will do the trick!
ACUPUCTURE: ANCIENT MEDICAL ART THAT IS HEALING KIDS: Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into the body's skin at strategic pressure points on the body, according to the Mayo Clinic. This technique has been used for over 5,000 years and now is showing promise in healing young children who suffer from chronic pain. Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital recently used MRI's to study the brain's response during acupuncture treatment. They found that the brain's response to pain turns off during acupuncture. According to the 2008 National Center for Health and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, 150,000 children have used acupuncture to help with headaches, back and neck pain, ADHD and anxiety. Risks associated with acupuncture are low if completed by a certified acupuncture practitioner. Some side effects include: soreness, bleeding or bruising near needle sites, internal organ injury (possibly to the lungs, if the needles are pushed in too deeply) and infectious disease if needles are reused.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Angela Johnson Rush University Medical Center (O) 312 563-2531 Email: email@example.com
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