June 19, 2013 10:12 PM

HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA.com) —The power of acupuncture is helping a 4-year-old boy who is battling a painful disease.

Kristi Ribeiro said just weeks after giving birth to her son, Colton, he began screaming in pain.

Doctors discovered Colton was suffering from mitochondrial disease.

“Mitochondrial disease is probably the most common disease you’ve never heard of before,” said Dr. Richard Boles, who treats Colton.

He added, “(The disease) is due to defects in energy metabolism. The mitochondrial…when they don’t have enough energy, you have a wide variety of different problems that could occur.”

For Colton, the disease has left him with gastrointestinal issues, including an enlarged liver.

“He was having constant stomach pains and was waking up in pain, going to bed in pain, several times a day lying in bed, saying his stomach hurt. His doctor suggested we try acupuncture,” said Kristi.

For small children, the acupuncture needle is a small, almost miniature needle.

Colton calls it a “sticker,” and they’re left on for two days for maximum impact.

“They’re really great. He doesn’t really feel them. Instead of just having points for abdominal pain, we have points that are really specific for Colton,” said Monika Kobylecka, an acupuncture therapist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

The results of the treatment were almost immediate.

“By the second treatment, the complaining of the stomach pain had stopped,” said Kristi.

Colton is one of dozens receiving acupuncture at the hospital’s PainManagement Clinic.

“Acupuncture has helped him with his constipation, it has decreased his pain and he’s come off the medications,” said Jeffrey Gold.

“It helps me feel better that we’re not giving him a bunch of medication,” said Kristi. “It’s been amazing. It’s really, really made a difference in not just his life, but our life.”

Originally posted on LA CBS