Treating kids with acupuncture is often a challenge, and indeed there are various different thoughts on what age is OK to start using acupuncture with children. I personally have used acupuncture on all my children when they were babies ranging in age from 5-8 weeks.
My thoughts on using Abdominal Acupuncture is that they should be 7 or 8 years old. Treatments with children will usually be much less comprehensive and usually will entail locating ahshi points and possibly one or two Ren points. Kids energy is usually strong and vibrant so treatments are shorter and the results are usually achieved faster.
My recently turned thirteen year old son had injured his groin and left thigh playing football, the pain seemed to be coming from his quadriceps and abductor muscles. He was unable to stretch or flex his thigh without getting pain, the severity of which depended on what he was doing, even sitting and standing caused discomfort for him. It was football (soccer) season and as he was a mid fielder on the local team, he could not function and had to be substituted, which was another form of torture for this young “football freak”.
Three days after the original strain, he asked me, if acupuncture would help, after I picked myself up of the floor and got over the initial shock, I off course declared “yes” it would. I though about it and being aware that this was the first time he had actually voluntarily considered acupuncture I wanted to encourage this wonderful departure towards using needles!
I told Conor I would do my best to fix his problem with one or two needles. He wanted to watch a movie while I did my stuff so I explained we could do a treatment using Dr. Tan’s mirroring and a couple of points in the opposite forearm should do it! His pain was between the Liver (foot Jue Yin) and Spleen (foot Tai Yin) meridians, so I chose to use the two strongest ahshi points I could locate along the Lung (hand tai Yin) meridian and another Ahshi point medial to this within 0.5 cun between the Lung and Pericardium (hand Jue Yin) meridians. Both these points were within about 3 cun distal to the elbow. I needled these to a depth of approximately 0.4-0.5 cun and achieved substantial pain relief of around 70%. Conor was content to take the relatively strong De Qi sensation if it meant he would be back playing his beloved football soon! He moved a couple of times and complained about it eliciting strong Qi, to which I replied, well avoid moving then (very sympathetic, I know!)
The following evening Conor asked if I could improve on his results without him feeling it. He asked about abdominal acupuncture, to my amazement! I said I would do my best to get the job done with as few needles as possible, and that this should be achievable without any awareness of the needles by him. He lay down on the sofa and I explored his abdomen I found a couple of small ahshi points between the hip pt St 26 (Wailing) and the knee (Ab 4) point, I made a mental note of where these were and asked Conor to put a reference point score of 10 out of 10 on his discomfort as it was at that moment in time.
I needled Ren 6 (Qihai) and Ren 4 (Guanyuan) to move Qi and Blood and awaken the abdomen for subsequent points. Ab 7 (Qipang) on the right was then used to move Qi through his affected left leg, I then needled St 26 (Wailing) and Ab 4 knee point on the left side. I left all needles superficial while I re - acquainted myself with the abdominal ahshi points I had found earlier. I then fixed the depth of all the main points, the Ren and Ab 7 points went to a depth of approximately 0.4 cun while the hip and knee were put to a depth of between 0.2-0.3 cun, I then needled the two ahshi points to around 0.1-0.2 cun and asked Conor how his pain was, it was gone, he hadn’t felt the needles at all and was pretty impressed (see plate 1). He told me I could leave him to watch the football match on TV, which I dutifully did. The needles were removed twenty minutes later without fuss, for fear of upsetting his viewing.
Plate 1: Conor’s abdominal acupuncture treatment!
Kids never cease to amaze! This was an opportunity not to be missed. I was impressed with my son asking for acupuncture and the results were very encouraging. OK, so I used seven abdominal points, I never told him how many as there was no need to. I took about 4 minutes from start to finish and obviously didn’t draw his attention to what I was doing. He was back at football training 3 days later and was playing a match without any problem (other than getting beaten 2:1) the following Saturday. The injury didn’t return again.