Acupuncture Program

Acupuncture is an ancient form of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Needles that are as thin as a human hair are put into specific points on the body. These points are called acupoints. Putting needles in these points is believed to help the body heal naturally, decrease pain, and support physical and emotional well-being.

The Acupuncture Program at CHOP offers acupuncture to complement the treatment plans of children and young adults with different symptoms and medical conditions.

The American Academy of Pediatrics published a report saying that acupuncture is safe when performed by well-trained providers. At CHOP, acupuncture is provided by physicians who have training in acupuncture as well as licensed acupuncturists with experience treating children and young adults.

What we do

Acupuncture is performed in a gentle and safe way.

Before treatment:

  • We may ask about your child’s daily activities and what they like to do.
  • We may check your child’s pulse, look at their tongue and do a quick physical examination.

During treatment:

  • Your child will be given a gown, towel or sheet for comfort. We may use a blanket or heat lamp to help keep your child warm during the treatment.
  • We will ask your child to lie down.
  • We will decide which points on the body to use, based on the problem being treated.
  • We will put needles into acupuncture points on the body to get the best results for each child’s symptoms.
  • The needles usually stay in place for 10 to 20 minutes. It is very important for your child to lie still during this time to stimulate the body's natural healing ability.
  • At the end of the session, the needles will be removed.

Some children may find it hard to lie still during the session. To keep your child safe, we will not do acupuncture if your child cannot lie still.

Acupuncture needles are clean and are used only once.

How long are typical treatment sessions?

The acupuncturist will work with you and your child to develop a treatment plan. The first session usually lasts 45 to 60 minutes for children in the hospital and 90 minutes for those seen in an outpatient clinic. Follow-up sessions usually last about 30 minutes or less.  Most patients need six to 12 treatment sessions. Other acupuncture-based treatments may also be suggested.

Does acupuncture have side effects?

Your child may feel energized by treatment, or more relaxed or drowsy after treatment. When the needles are put in, your child may feel pressure at the acupuncture point. Sometimes your child may have minor bleeding or bruising at the needle site.

Is acupuncture painful?

Most children have little to no pain and report less than 2 out of 10 on a pain scale. Some patients may feel a gentle pinch or tickle when the needle is put in.

Who we treat

Research shows that acupuncture can help with pain, headache, nausea, vomiting, digestive problems, anxiety, numbness and tingling of the hands and feet, and other conditions.  Talk to your healthcare providers to ask if acupuncture may help your child.  The Acupuncture Program at CHOP treats children who are seen by many different teams including:

Acupuncture does not take the place of medical treatment. If you are interested in acupuncture for your child, please call us directly or speak with your healthcare team about a referral to our program. To schedule an outpatient appointment, call 215-590-5043.

Additional resources