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Trigger-point pain in the side of the abdomen.

Q:  My daughter has intermittently crippling trigger-point pain in the side of her abdomen. Is there any evidence that acupuncture can help? If so, which is the best kind? Massage will certainly be out of the question, she is too tender.


A:  It is interesting to us that you use the term 'trigger point' pain, since trigger points themselves belong to the vocabulary of systems of western medical acupuncture and refer to knots in muscle which often cause symptoms, often quite severe, to occur elsewhere along the fibres of the muscle and the structures to which they attach. The location of the trigger points, and their treatment with acupuncture, is a system which many doctors use, and is replicated in Chinese medicine where the knots and the pain consequent upon their palpation are referred to as 'ah shi' (literally, 'yes, that's it') points, and often treated with a similar direct needling. The main difference in treatment will probably be that the Chinese medicine practitioner will also be looking at the overall picture to see whether the knots form a part of a broader pattern of imbalance within the patient's system. This can ensure that any underlying conditions which may cause recurrences of the problem are dealt with.
We are sure that you have already had all of the routine western medical examinations, but if this is not the case then this would be our initial and fairly urgent recommendation. Pains of this nature in a child usually have a specific cause, and the obvious ones should be eliminated by investigation first. If she is too tender for massage, this would indicate a more generalised discomfort which may point to an underlying pathology. If there are no obvious pathologies, then the choice of practitioner is really up to you, since the treatment approach may be very similar. Your doctor may even be able to offer this as a part of their service.
However, although we do not as yet recognise specialisms in acupuncture (our view is that we are committed to generalism - every practitioner is capable of treating any patient within the limits of their competence), there are many BAcC members who undertake specific postgraduate training in treating children, and they are very used to dealing with children. We cannot make individual referrals for obvious reasons, but it should be relatively easy to track down someone local to you who has undertaken such training and with whom in the first instance you can discuss whether treatment may be of benefit. We are sure that they will offer you an independent and impartial assessment of the best course of action.

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