Health/Sci-TechLifestyleVOLUME 18 ISSUE # 50

More parents turning to acupuncture for kids’ pain, anxiety

Eleven-year-old Evan Hines is a typical pre-teenager. He loves fishing with his dad, chess club, and of course video games. He’s passionate about taekwondo and loves to bake. He also has hard-to-manage migraine headaches.

Evan was diagnosed about a year ago. He was admitted to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, FL, because his migraines were not responding to any medication. During his hospital stay, the family was told about the hospital’s acupuncture clinic. “I checked with Evan,” said his mother, Kathryn. “And I said this is what acupuncture is, are you game? And he said, ‘I’ll do whatever; it can’t be worse than having this kind of pain.’”

“I thought it might hurt, but it really doesn’t.” Evan said. “I don’t really have a word for it, but it will tingle sometimes, and it makes me feel very relaxed.” Evan Hines, 11, started acupuncture for his migraine headaches. Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine practice that has been used in some form for at least 2,500 years.

Very fine needles, some as thin as a human hair, are placed into the skin at various points to stimulate the body to heal itself. It’s often used for pain management, digestive issues, emotional conditions, and stress, taking a “whole body” approach rather than treating each symptom individually.

And parents are beginning to turn to acupuncture as a safe, effective, and holistic way to treat their children’s anxiety and physical ailments. “It’s given him the opportunity to feel like he’s doing something where he has some control, like he’s made the choice to do acupuncture,” Kathryn Hines said. “When you look at the risks, you know, I think, like, every medicine I put my child on has more risks than going for acupuncture does.”

Kym Householder is a registered nurse, doctor of acupuncture, and chronic pain coordinator at All Children’s. In the 6 years she’s been doing pediatric acupuncture, she has treated hundreds of patients, including Evan. “Acupuncture balances and regulates all of the body’s systems,” she said. “It is safe, it’s natural, it’s drug-free, it’s not painful, it has very minimal side effects, it’s been helping people heal for thousands of years.”