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San Diego Study: Acupuncture Effective For Pain Management In Children After Tonsillectomy


James Ochi, M.D., ENT specialist

Farshad, Ahadian, M.D., clinical professor, anesthesiology, medicaldDirector — Center for Pain Medicine, UC San Diego


For some children the sight of needles at a doctor's office can leave them skittish, squrimy and sometimes squeeling. But when it comes to using acupuncture needles on children after a tonsillectomy, a new study by a San Diego surgeon has proven it's an effective alternative for drug-free pain management.


Acupuncture Instead of Codeine for Tonsillectomy Pain in Children

Acupuncture Instead of Codeine for Tonsillectom...

Dr. James Ochi, a San Diego Pediatric ENT surgeon study.

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In February 2013 the FDA banned the use of codeine in after tonsillectomies due to a risk of death in children. Codeine was the narcotic often prescribed post-tonsillectomy.

Dr. James Ochi'sstudy is published in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolargngology. His study included treating 31 patients ranging from 2 to 17 years old with acupuncture treatment after tonsillectomy.

"I wanted to see if acupuncture without the use of narcotics would help my patients," he tells KPBS.

The results from his study show promise. He found patients or their parents reported a mean pain level of 5.52 out of 10. After about 15 minutes, Ochi reports their pain level dropped to 1.92.

A Harvard Medical School study also found acupuncture helped with pain management and agitation in children undergoing ear surgery including tube placement.

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