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Acupressure Could Calm Kids Pre-Surgery

October 1, 2008

Before surgery, researchers say acupressure could help calm anxious children even before they get anesthesia.

When doctors taped an acupressure bead between the eyebrows it reduced anxiety in children, compared to a similar fake treatment, Dr. Zeev Kain of the University of California Irvine and colleagues reported.

“Anxiety in children before surgery is bad because of the emotional toll on the child and parents, and this anxiety can lead to prolonged recovery and the increased use of analgesics for postoperative pain,” said Kain. “What’s great about the use of acupressure is that it costs very little and has no side effects.”

Several studies have shown acupressure and acupuncture may stimulate the release of hormones known as endorphins, which can relieve stress, pain and nausea.

Kain’s team studied 52 children aged 8 to 17 who were about to have stomach surgery.

Half got a bead taped to the Extra-1 acupoint — one of the points used to reduce stress in both acupuncture and acupressure therapy.

The other children got a similar patch on a spot above the left eyebrow that had no reported clinical effects.

Kain’s team reported in the journal Anesthesia & Analgesia, that after 30 minutes the treated children were less anxious, while the young patients who got the fake treatment were clearly more anxious,

“As anesthesiologists, we need to look at all therapeutic opportunities to make the surgical process less stressful for all patients,” Kain said. “We can’t assume that Western medical approaches are the only viable ones, and we have an obligation to look at integrative treatments like acupressure as a way to improve the surgery experience.”

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