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Feasibility and Acceptance of Acupuncture and Hypnotherapy in the Treatment of Chronic Pain in Children

The purpose of the study was to determine if Acupuncture and Hypnotherapy were feasible and acceptable treatment modalities in the tertiary care environment of a Western medical pediatric pain management clinic.

Methods: In addition to the treatment of standard Western Medical drug therapies and psychotherapy, the subjects were offered Acupuncture and Hypnotherapy as part of the study. Subjective measures of pain, anxiety (STAIC), depression (CDI) and somatization were taken at the patient's first visit and after their sixth weekly visit. The Acupuncture was carried out on the basis of each subjects standard Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnoses. The Hypnotherapy/Guided Imagery was conducted for the 15-20 minutes that the Acupuncture needles were in place. Pain evaluation forms were completed for each treatment session, pre and post treatment.

Results: Of the 33 patients (age 6-18) offered the Acupuncture/ Hypnotherapy 31 accepted and 28 completed the six-week program. Twenty-six percent of the patients reported previous experience with acupuncture and 13% had received hypnotherapy before. Fifty-nine percent of the subjects had a greater than 30% reduction in their self-rated pain scores by the end of the six weeks. The children experienced a 44% reduction in mean self-rated pain and an 11% reduction in mean state anxiety score. All diagnostic groups (Western and Chinese) responded equally well to the treatment. Self-rated depression and trait anxiety remained unchanged.

Discussion: This preliminary data indicates that Acupuncture and Hypnotherapy are well accepted by the pediatric chronic pain population and it appears that acupuncture and hypnotherapy efficacy studies with this population would be feasible.

Zeltzer, L.K., Tsao, J.C.I., Stelling, C., Powers, M., Levy, S., Waterhouse, M., (in press). A Phase I Study on the Feasibility and Acceptability of an Acupuncture/Hypnosis Intervention: Journal of Pain and Symptom Management.

Waterhouse, M., Stelling C., Powers M., Levy S., & Zeltzer LK: Acupuncture and hypnotherapy in the treatment of chronic pain in children. Clinical Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, 2000, 1, 139-150.


Updated 7/2/2002