Conditions + Treatments

Acupuncture In-Depth

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What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture refers to the insertion of tiny, hair-thin needles through the skin into underlying tissues at strategic points to ease pain and treat many diseases. It’s been practiced in China for more than 2,000 years.

Acupuncture is based on the belief that the body contains energy called Qi (pronounced “chee”) that flows throughout the body on pathways called meridians and maintains health and life. When you’re healthy, this energy flows freely; but when you’re ill, the energy may be weak or blocked. During acupuncture treatment, the therapist tries to improve the energy flow along the meridians.

How does acupuncture work?

According to principles of traditional Chinese medicine, the proper flow of Qi may be restored by the insertion of tiny, hair-thin needles at selected combinations of the 365 classical acupuncture points, which are located along the meridians. The improved energy flow produced by acupuncture results in stimulation of the body’s natural healing abilities.

Scientific research suggests that needling acupuncture points stimulates the body to release chemicals into the nervous system and into the bloodstream. These chemicals change the experience of pain and trigger the release of other chemicals which influence the body’s internal regulatory systems.

How can acupuncture help my child?

Acupuncture has proven successful in treating chronic pain conditions without side effects. It’s also shown to be helpful in treating patients for:

  • Postoperative surgery and dental pain
  • Nausea and vomiting related to chemotherapy
  • Sinusitis, bronchitis, and asthma
  • Gastritis, colitis, hiccups, constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Headaches
  • Lower back and neck pain

What is medical acupuncture?

Here at Boston Children’s, we use the term “medical acupuncture” to describe our treatment, which means it’s performed by a doctor fully licensed in western medicine who’s also had thorough training in acupuncture as a specialty practice.  The advantage is that the physician is able to integrate both Western medicine and acupuncture to treat illness.

Are there any side effects?

Acupuncture usually does not produce any side effects.

Is it safe?

Yes, we use only sterile, disposable stainless steel needles in our clinic. There is no risk of acquiring transmissible, blood-borne diseases from the acupuncture treatments.

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944

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