Complementary and alternative medicine for acute procedural pain in children

Altern Ther Health Med. Sep-Oct 2008;14(5):52-6.


Pain may cause physical and emotional distress in children experiencing medical procedures. Complementary and alternative medical (CAM) therapies have become increasingly important in treating children's painful conditions, yet it is still unclear whether CAM has a place in acute pediatric pain analgesia. This review aims to present an overview of the available published evidence. Most research has examined the efficacy of hypnosis, which has emerged as useful in alleviating acute pain associated with a number of medical procedures. Music therapy also has gained some attention and for the most part shows promise in the pediatric acute pain setting. Acupuncture, laughter therapy, and massage also may prove beneficial. Despite the promise of many of these modalities, we conclude that further empirical research into safety and efficacy using well-designed studies and large samples is required before guidelines can be established. In addition, further work is needed in standardizing interventions, creating treatment manuals, and determining treatment efficacy as a function of the child's development, his or her individual characteristics, and the type of procedure the child is undergoing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analgesia / methods*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Complementary Therapies / methods*
  • Humans
  • Hypnosis
  • Music Therapy
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain Management*
  • Pediatrics / methods