NEWS | August 7, 2018

Acupuncture provides help for pediatric GI patient


Twelve-year-old Samantha Rickards was not one to complain. But when her stomach hurt and every day the pain got worse, her parents were alarmed … especially after a visit to her pediatrician, a gastroenterologist and two-and-a-half months of tests and medications with no answers or relief.

Photo of Samantha Rickards
Samantha Rickards

“At the other facilities, she was going under anesthesia repeatedly to conduct all the tests. They said it could be Crohn’s disease but they weren’t sure,” said Samantha’s mom, Misty Rickards. “It was scary and nothing was helping.”

By the time Samantha was referred to pediatric gastroenterology (GI) specialists at UC Davis Children’s Hospital, she was unable to get out of bed or do schoolwork. But that would soon change when they met pediatric gastroenterologist Arthur de Lorimier.

“Dr. Arthur de Lorimier was extremely thorough,” says Rickards. “He took the time to really listen to Samantha and put the pieces together. We stopped all the medications and started over.”

With the information from the family and the resources and expertise of the program, de Lorimier suggested Samantha try acupuncture to alleviate her chronic abdominal pain and nausea, as well as the anxiety that often accompanies these issues. This is a new field of treatment for GI disorders in children and de Lorimier is one of only three trained pediatric GI acupuncturists in the U.S. He received his training at the Helms Medical Institute, when he was a colonel in the Army.  

"I provide acupuncture to appropriate patients as an adjunct to traditional treatments in the care of children with functional and motility disorders of the gut," said de Lorimier. "It's a promising alternative to all of the medications that are usually prescribed, which can have unwanted side effects."

Misty Rickards said that her daughter has felt much better since beginning the acupuncture treatment.

"I wish we would have come to UC Davis Children’s Hospital sooner,” says Rickards. “Samantha’s quality of life has improved dramatically and we can better function as a family. I am so grateful.”