Which pain alternative therapies are safe for children

How do parents know which pain complementary and alternative therapies are safe for children?

Complementary and alternative medications (CAM) and therapies (CAT) are popular and generally considered safe. Despite little evidence of effectiveness, prevalence rates for overall CAM use in children ranges from 10% to almost 90% for lifetime use and slightly less at 8% to almost 50% for current use. Fish oil, garlic, chamomile, and acidophilus are the most commonly used CAM, but their use is rarely reported to children’s treating health care providers. Among children seen at a pediatric chronic pain center, CAM users tended to have higher pain intensity and greater functional disability. CAT most frequently used by children with chronic pain are also those most frequently recommended by health care providers, including guided imagery, biofeedback, journaling, yoga, hypnosis, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), massage, and acupuncture. Parents should be advised of potentially dangerous CAM use (St. John’s wort, ginseng) and the benefit of biobehavioral techniques, which have been associated with adaptive coping skills.

Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Children’s Pain

InformationChoices and controlDistraction and attentionGuided imageryHypnosisPsychotherapyBehavior modificationBiofeedbackExerciseRelaxation therapyYogaParental response modificationAcupunctureMassagePhysiotherapySensory stimulationThermal stimulationTENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation)

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