Benefits of Acupuncture for Kids with Cerebral Palsy

Alternative, Cerebral Palsy Treatments

close-up of acupuncture model

If you’re the parent of a child with cerebral palsy, it’s likely been difficult to witness your child experience pain due to the condition. There’s no cure for cerebral palsy, but there are pain management techniques that can help your child live a life that’s as comfortable and joyful as possible.

There are various ways to help with the muscle stiffness, mobility issues and other physical impairments that your child may experience. Many of those are natural, which means they lack the harsh side effects that can accompany traditional doctor-prescribed drugs. As one of the oldest types of medical practices, dating back to 6000 BCE, acupuncture has long been relied upon as a holistic way to help with a variety of ailments, including chronic pain. And more recently, it’s been incorporated into pediatric healthcare to help kids who live with cerebral palsy. Keep reading to find out how it may be able to help ease symptoms and provide pain relief for your child.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

Acupuncture helps to support the body and mind by harnessing one’s own natural healing power. You’re probably already familiar with the process—inserting tiny needles into certain areas of the skin. This is often described as helping to “release the body’s life force” in order to relieve pain and help improve disability. But how does that happen once the needles are inserted?

The theory is that the needles help to improve the flow of “qi”—the energy flow created along the pathways that connect the acupuncture points along the body. These “meridian points” are thought to be able to correct imbalances of energy in the body and restore natural internal homeostasis. By stimulating these specific points on the body with very fine needles, acupuncture practitioners are able to activate the body’s nerves and connective tissue, resulting in profound effects on the nervous system including regulation of key areas of the brain. This increased function results in the body producing its own natural chemicals involved in pain relief and the reduction of inflammation.

What Are the Benefits of Acupuncture for Cerebral Palsy?

Individuals with cerebral palsy can experience chronic pain, often a lifelong or long-lasting result of their condition. Unfortunately, doctor-prescribed medications for pain relief can cause sleepiness, weight gain, and mood swings, which can further complicate an already complex and often painful disease.

However, acupuncture has been shown to offer relief to children with these CP symptoms, both anecdotally and medically. Although acupuncture treatment has been used for thousands of years, it’s still considered a relatively new CP therapy, and only a few in-depth studies have been done. Still, those results have been overwhelmingly positive.

A 2018 meta-analysis of studies on acupuncture as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for relieving symptoms of CP cautiously suggests that acupuncture plus physical rehabilitation training can improve gross motor function, reduce muscle spasms, and enhance daily life activities in children with cerebral palsy.

This case report and others demonstrate how acupuncture may be an incredibly beneficial tool for pain management as well as improvement of cerebral palsy’s effects on cognitive development. Acupuncture treatment has been shown to help with complications for children with CP such as:

  • Problems with motor functionality
  • Cognitive issues
  • Hearing deficits
  • Speech delays
  • Physical limitations
  • Consistent pain

When your child has cerebral palsy, the entire family is affected emotionally, physically and financially—and your child’s struggle to live free of stress and pain can last a lifetime. If you suspect that your child’s cerebral palsy was the result of medical error, we’re here to provide the educational and legal resources you need. Contact the Cerebral Palsy Family Lawyers at Janet, Janet & Suggs to discuss your case, and let us help move your family forward.



Reviewed by:
Trish Fletcher, MS, BSN, CRNP, NNP-BC, ALNC
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner | Birth Injury Legal Nurse Consultant

Tricia is a dedicated, focused, Birth Injury Legal Nurse Consultant and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner with more than 25 years of experience. Her strong clinical and critical thinking skills, paired with expertise caring for neonates in a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), ensures meticulous medical records review. READ FULL BIO

Was Your Child's CP Preventable?