This retrospective research was conducted in 31 patients who underwent a tonsillectomy within a 3 month period of time by Dr. James Ochi, one of only a handful of dual board-certified ENT and medical acupuncture in the United States. No study patients received any narcotics for pain control beyond tylenol, ibuprofen, and a single dose of intra-operative dexamethasone. The tonsillectomy itself was performed using electrocautery set at 24W.
The acupuncture points used for pain control are shown below and was performed bilaterally:
|Image taken from the Research Paper|
LI4 point is hypothesized to work so well because:
"Stimulation at LI4 increases activity in the somatosensory cortex and a region of the brainstem known as the periaqueductal gray area, as revealed by functional magnetic resonance imaging, that are involved in processing pain signals." [link]Although promising, in order to be fully convinced of the effectiveness of acupuncture for post-tonsillectomy pain, further research that is prospective, randomized, and controlled is required.
BUT... because the risks and side effects are so nominal, it can't hurt to give it a try for those patients and families interested in doing so.
For full disclosure, I personally have no experience in providing acupuncture and I would suggest taking these research findings to a reputable and licensed acupuncturist to get this done in those who are interested.
Acupuncture instead of codeine for tonsillectomy pain in children. International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology Volume 77, Issue 12 , Pages 2058-2062, December 2013