Rady Doctor Uses Acupuncture Instead of Pain Meds

By Greg Bledsoe
|  Tuesday, Dec 17, 2013  |  Updated 5:24 PM PDT
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NBC 7’s Greg Bledsoe shares the story of how Dr. James Ochi, of Rady Children's Hospital, is using acupuncture instead of pain medications on his latest patient, Tasha Bruner, an 18-year-old student who suffers from severe sinus issues. Under Ochi's watchful eye, Bruner had polyps removed for the third time.

NBC 7’s Greg Bledsoe shares the story of how Dr. James Ochi, of Rady Children's Hospital, is using acupuncture instead of pain medications on his latest patient, Tasha Bruner, an 18-year-old student who suffers from severe sinus issues. Under Ochi's watchful eye, Bruner had polyps removed for the third time.

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

Tasha has severe sinus issues.

“It’s all stuffed up. I can’t smell. I can’t breathe. I have to breathe through my mouth,” she explained.

On Tuesday, Tasha had polyps removed for the third time at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego.

Although this surgery can be painful to wake up from, Dr. James Ochi won’t be using pain medication. Instead, he’s using acupuncture.

Ochi said placing needles at pressure points on the hands and face lessen pain.

Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration banned the use of codeine in child having their tonsils removed.

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

Besides the codeine ban, Ochi said there are other reasons to use acupuncture. He said it works, it’s safer, and it’s less expensive than drugs.

“Acupuncture is cheap,” Ochi said. “It costs pennies per needle.”

However, Ochi said that might be why he is one of the few doctors around the country doing it.

“The sad truth is that acupuncture does not generate much money,” he said.

Ochi recently published a study involving 31 kids who said their pain level, on average, was 5.5 on a 1 to 10 scale.

“After acupuncture for about 15 minutes, their pain level fell to about 2,” Ochi said.

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

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