Children’s Acupuncture

Dr. Sniezek to Study and Provide Medical Acupuncture at Children’s National Medical Center

Washington, DC, November 2008 – While acupuncture is now being used more widely in this United States, particularly in pain treatment centers, it is only rarely used in the treatment of children, even though studies have shown acupuncture to be safe, effective, and well-tolerated in both adults and children. At Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC, David P. Sniezek, DC, MD, FAAMA has been invited to provide and study medical acupuncture for symptom management and palliative treatment in children. According to Dr. Sniezek, “Acupuncture is used to treat many childhood conditions in China and we are just beginning to see the benefit of combining acupuncture with our commonly used medical treatments for both adults and children.”


Traditional Chinese medicine, which predates Western medicine by well over 3,000 years, explains its efficacy by balancing energy, or Qi (pronounced chēē), which flows through channels in and around the body in predictable pathways. The goal of balancing Qi is to help restore optimal health and well-being. The goal of acupuncture is to activate these intrinsic mechanisms of homeostasis and repair and to improve function.

Although it may be difficult to understand how sticking a needle in the skin (thereby activating and moving an energy force called “Qi” to balance dysfunctional systems) might relate to Western conventional health care, neurobiological research into how acupuncture works reveals that the analgesic effects are due to the production of endogenous opioid peptides at the spinal level, including dynorphins and enkephalins at low-frequency stimulation, as well as activation of other transmitters, such as GABA at high frequencies. Acupuncture also affects the midbrain and pituitary by activating the endogenous descending inhibitory pathways. This mechanism involves releasing B-endorphins and ACTH which are co-released on an equimolar basis into the circulation and CSF to cause analgesia at a distance. ACTH travels to the adrenal cortex where cortisol is released into the blood, which may explain the anti-inflammatory effects of acupuncture.

According to Dr. Sniezek, “Because acupuncture is focused primarily on healing rather than cure, acupuncture is particularly useful in managing medical conditions.” Dr. Sniezek is presently working with the Pediatric Advanced Needs Assessment and Care Team (PANDA) and the Leukemia/Lymphoma Team which is in the Children’s Oncology Group within the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Hospital. The PANDA team’s goal is to prevent, reduce or soothe the symptoms of patients in the advanced stages of illness.

As a specialist in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Pain Management, Medical Acupuncture, and Quality Assurance and Utilization Review, Dr. Sniezek is in a unique position to integrate commonly used treatments in the hospital and clinic with acupuncture. “As an example,” states Dr. Sniezek, “studies have shown that acupuncture can be used in combination with Western medicine to help reduce post-operative nausea and vomiting caused by narcotics.” Similarly, according to Dr. Sniezek, helping to reduce pain with less narcotic medication can help facilitate rehabilitation. In the treatment of sinusitis, less antihistamine medication is required when used in combination with acupuncture, so there is less drowsiness. Dr. Sniezek says there are many more examples of the beneficial effects of acupuncture in combination with present medical treatments; however, these will need to be studied. Part of Dr. Sniezek’s goal is to try to identify which patients and conditions will respond best to a combined treatment of oriental and Western methods. “Once these can be identified then the next step is to determine the optimal balance to be applied in each situation.” According to Dr. Sniezek, “There is a saying in China that two hands are better than one. This holds true in many instances in medicine in which using a combination of both methods can be better than just one alone.”

Dr. Sniezek is a graduate of the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation program at George Washington University Medical Center (1989) and completed additional formal training in Medical Acupuncture at both the UCLA School of Medicine (1995) and Harvard Medical School (2006-07) postgraduate programs. Dr. Sniezek has special interest in Rehabilitation Medicine, Pain Management, and Integrative Medicine. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of HealthCare Quality, American Assoc. of Integrative Medicine, and the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture. He has authored numerous medical articles and is on the Editorial Board of Medical Acupuncture. Dr. Sniezek has been recognized by the Washingtonian Magazine as a “Top Doctor” in the field of Rehabilitation Medicine for over 15 years. Dr. Sniezek has offices in McLean, Virginia as well as Washington, DC. He is also on the medical staff at GW Hospital, Washington Hospital Center and Sibley Memorial Hospital where he practices Rehabilitation and Pain Management. For more information about Dr. Sniezek or to schedule for a consultation, please call 202-296-3555.