Calif. doctor has patients undergo acupuncture after surgery

Instead of doctor prescribing painkillers, patients undergo acupuncture

By Lauren Podell - Reporter

Instead of prescribing his patients painkillers after surgery, a California doctor has them undergo acupuncture, and he says the results speak for themselves.

The operating room is not where most 18-year-old cheerleaders would choose to spend their spare time, but unfortunately, Tasha Bruner is getting used to it.

"It's stuffed up. I can't smell. I can't breath," said Bruner. "I breath through my mouth."

Bruner has severe sinus issues, and she's about to have polyps removed for the third time.

"So, that's what we're trying to do today is remove soft tissue," said Dr. James Ochi.

Ochi said it can be a painful surgery to wakeup from, but there will be no pain medication, instead acupuncture.

"What we are doing is putting in needles to decongest her nose, and decrease the pain," said Ochi.

Ochi says those needles placed at pressure points in her hands and face will lessen the pain later on.

"The number of narcotics I prescribe for my patients nowadays has hit the floor," said Ochi.

Partly, Ochi said because earlier this year, the FDA banned the use of codeine on kids having their tonsils out.

However, Ochi said there are so many other reasons to not use strong pain killers on kids like one, it works; two it's safer.

"And number three acupuncture is cheap," said Ochi. "It costs pennies per needle."

Unfortunately, Ochi says that may be why he's one of the only doctors in the country doing it.

"Well, the sad truth is that acupuncture does not generate much money. That's the long and short of it," Ochi said.

Ochi recently published a study involving 31 kids who on average said their pain level was about a 5.5 out of 10.

"After acupuncture for about 15 minutes, their pain levels fell to about two," said Ochi.

"From one through ten, it's maybe like a two or three," said Bruner. "It doesn't hurt that much."

Which Dr. Ochi said feels great.

"For me it is extremely moving to look at a child who is unhappy after surgery, and with a few needles make them smile," Ochi said.

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