Going Under the Needle

FRESNO, Calif.

More than 3 million adults and 150,000 kids turned to acupuncture for their ailments in 2008. Now, experts are hoping to find the science behind what one girl calls her "only source" of relief.

"It's a constant, throbbing pain that never goes away," Jessica Velez, told Ivanhoe."It's 24/7, everyday."

A slew of ER trips, MRIs, and spinal taps turned up bizarre results. Jessica was diagnosed with daily persistent headache syndrome -- a mysterious chronic headache disorder.

When medication failed, she turned to Rush University Medical Center acupuncturist Angela Johnson.

"Acupuncture is not the 'magic bullet' for everybody, but it's certainly, certainly worth the try," Johnson, a Chinese medicine practitioner, told Ivanhoe.

It's based on the idea that so-called pressure points control energy flow through the body. One study found acupuncture switches off the brain's response to pain -- kind of like it's sleeping. Another study shows 70-percent of kids said acupuncture helped their symptoms.

"Studies do show that there's absolutely a biochemical, physiological impact that acupuncture can have," Johnson said. "After she [Jessica] put only a few needles in, the pain almost went down to a five out of 10."

Experts say using a licensed acupuncturist is important. You can find one at nccaom.org.

Rush University Medical Center is still enrolling kids in the study to see if acupuncture improves their quality of life. Participants have to be between 5 and 20 years old and experiencing pain.

For more information, call (312) 563-2531.

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Melissa Medalie at mmedalie@ivanhoe.com.

Angela Johnson
Rush University Medical Center
(O) 312 563-2531
Email: angela_m_johnson@rush.edu

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