Could acupuncture be routinely prescribed by US doctors for pain relief?

It could happen, according to a new study that found it works in children who have had their tonsils taken out. Doctors’ choices were narrowed earlier this year when America’s drug regulator, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), banned the use of codeine in children who had had a tonsillectomy after the drug was found to cause complications. But Dr James Ochi, a pediatric ear, nose and throat surgeon in San Diego, has produced a study on the successful use of acupuncture on a group of 31 children, aged from two to 17 years, after tonsillectomy. Their pain levels fell dramatically after just 15 minutes of acupuncture, and the pain relief lasted for nearly three days afterwards.

It was no great news to Dr Ochi who says he has being using acupuncture for years, and even before the codeine ban. An earlier study at Harvard came to similar conclusions: acupuncture reduces pain in children following ear surgery, the researchers found.

(Source: International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology, 2013; 77: 2058)