Veterans often face unique challenges when it comes to managing pain and finding effective treatments. In recent years, an innovative approach called “Battlefield Acupuncture” has gained recognition for its potential in providing non-traditional, pharmacologic pain relief. Developed by Air Force veteran Dr. Niemtzow, this form of acupuncture aims to make pain management more accessible to service members and quickly deployable in military healthcare settings.
Understanding Battlefield Acupuncture:
Acupuncture, a centuries-old practice in Eastern medicine, involves placing needles throughout the body to address various areas of pain or dysfunction. However, Battlefield Acupuncture takes a different route, focusing on auricular or ear acupuncture. This shift makes the treatment more convenient and efficient for service members, and it has been widely adopted in military healthcare settings.
In the military, healthcare professionals, including physician assistants like Leah Bucholz, have been credentialed and authorized to administer Battlefield Acupuncture. This form of acupuncture has shown positive effects on various conditions, such as orthopedic issues and migraine headaches. While it may not be a cure-all, many veterans have reported reduced stress, anxiety, and improved sleep as additional benefits.
Accessibility at the VA:
One noteworthy aspect of Battlefield Acupuncture is its widespread availability in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA actively promotes this non-pharmacologic therapy, recognizing its potential to help veterans manage pain without relying on traditional medications. Veterans are encouraged to inquire about Battlefield Acupuncture during their visits to VA healthcare providers, particularly those in pain management clinics.
The ASP Needles:
The effectiveness of Battlefield Acupuncture lies in the use of semi-permanent needles known as ASP needles. These tiny needles, despite their small size, can provide substantial pain relief and their application has a specific protocol. The needles are strategically placed at five different points in the ear – point zero, cingulate gyrus, the thalamus, shen men, and omega two.
Application and Duration:
The protocol involves inserting the ASP needles into both ears, although some individuals may start with just one ear initially. The needles typically stay in place for five to seven days, with some falling out sooner. While the procedure might cause minor discomfort, such as sensitivity when sleeping on the treated side, the potential benefits, including pain relief and improved functionality, often outweigh these temporary inconveniences.
Potential Side Effects:
As with any medical procedure, Battlefield Acupuncture comes with potential side effects. These may include minor bleeding at the needle site, temporary pain during and after the procedure, and a risk of infection. Veterans considering this therapy should discuss these potential side effects with their healthcare provider to determine if Battlefield Acupuncture is a suitable option for them.
Battlefield Acupuncture represents a unique and effective approach to pain management for veterans. With its roots in the military and widespread acceptance in the VA healthcare system, this non-traditional therapy offers an alternative to pharmacologic interventions. Veterans are encouraged to explore this option, engaging with their healthcare providers to discuss whether Battlefield Acupuncture could be a valuable addition to their pain management plan. As we continue to explore innovative ways to support veterans’ health, Battlefield Acupuncture stands out as a testament to the military’s commitment to finding holistic solutions for those who have served.
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