Acupuncture as a Nonpharmacologic Treatment for Pain in a Pediatric Emergency Department

Shiu Lin Tsai, Elena Reynoso, Da Wi Shin, James W. Tsung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objectives With epidemic opioid deaths and abuse in the United States, government agencies recommend nonpharmacological treatments for pain. However nonopioid treatment options for moderate to severe pain in the pediatric emergency department (PED) are limited. Acupuncture has been shown to be effective for pain. The objective of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of using traditional acupuncture (TA) and battlefield acupuncture (BFA) in the treatment of pain in the PED. Methods A pediatric cohort treated with acupuncture for pain in an urban PED was assessed. All subjects received TA or BFA as treatment, and pre/postacupuncture pain scores, feedback, and adverse events were assessed. The primary outcome was a change in pain score. Results Twelve patients received BFA, and 13 received TA for these pain conditions: headaches, sciatica, paraphimosis, torticollis, joint pains (knee, shoulder, jaw), sprains (foot, wrist, thumb), dysmenorrhea, otitis externa, sickle cell, and muscle knot. The mean ± SD pain score change, 5.8 ± 2.5 (P < 0.05; 95% confidence interval, 4.9-7.0), was clinically and statistically significant. Over 90% of subjects reported significant improvement or resolution of pain; 96% were satisfied with pain relief and would receive acupuncture again. Two adverse events were noted: one patient reported dizziness, and another, a tinge of blood at 1 of 90 needled points. Conclusions This study suggests that acupuncture is a potential nonpharmacologic therapeutic option for acute pain management in the PED.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E360-E366
JournalPediatric Emergency Care
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2021


  • acupuncture
  • auricular acupuncture
  • battlefield acupuncture
  • pain
  • pain management
  • traditional acupuncture


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