Dr. James Ochi, a San Diego pediatric ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon conducted a study using acupuncture instead of codeine for pain relief for his tonsillectomy patients.
"I've been using medical acupuncture for years to help my patients suffer less pain after surgery. Now that it is unsafe to use codeine for these kids, I wanted to see if acupuncture without the use of narcotics was helpful for my patients," Dr. Ochi said. "Acupuncture in general has been shown to be effective in reducing pain, is safe and can be done quickly at minimal cost."
In this novel study, 31 patients ranging from 2 to 17 years old received acupuncture after tonsillectomy. Prior to acupuncture treatment, patients or their parents reported a mean pain level of 5.52 out of 10.
After about 15 minutes of acupuncture the pain level dropped to 1.92, a statistically significant difference. Furthermore, parents on average estimated the duration of benefit from the acupuncture to last about 2 and a half days. No adverse effects were reported as a result of the drug-free treatments.
The study is published in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology.