In recent weeks we have added a new therapy to our community acupuncture offerings: “battlefield acupuncture”. Battlefield acupuncture is an auricular (ear) therapy that was invented by Dr. Richard Niemtzow, M.D, PhD. The treatment uses small gold or stainless steel semi-permanent needles in the skin of the ear to block pain in as little as five minutes. The needles are left to fall out on their own or be removed in 1-3 days.
Dr. Niemtzow served as a consultant for complementary and alternative medicine to the Surgeon General of the Air Force. He initially introduced battlefield acupuncture in 2008 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, where it was applied to wounded service members and local patients for pain relief, with significant results:
A pain specialist at Landstuhl personally experienced a 25 percent increased range of motion and a 50 percent reduction in chronic shoulder and upper back pain he had experienced for several years. He then recruited his most challenging patients for whom traditional pain treatments offered limited relief. Within minutes, many said their pain had been reduced by up to 75 percent. To put this in perspective, a 25 percent reduction would be considered a success with traditional pain medications.
Beginning in 2009, the U.S. Air Force began training physicians in this method who were being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. The pilot program was designed to train active-duty physicians to provide battlefield acupuncture services for both the relief of pain and for post traumatic stress syndromes, expanding health care services to personnel on the front lines.
To clarify, battlefield acupuncture is not designed to replace standard medical care for war-related injuries, but to assist in pain relief and either reduce or eliminate the need for pain medication for acute and chronic pain. Results are usually expected within minutes, and there are virtually no complications or side effects. The duration of relief varies with each patient from hours to days--but treatment usually progresses from about two times per week to as little as once per month or longer. In some cases, further acupuncture treatment is no longer required.
Battlefield acupuncture has now expanded beyond military use into acupuncture clinics all over the world. There are five specific points which are classically used, however many practitioners only use two, depending on patient response. The ear protocol is very effective for any type of pain, acute or chronic, but is also effective for anxiety, neurosis, and any psychological or stress related issue. For this reason, it can be helpful for aiding in addiction recovery as well.
Curious to try it out? The treatment is offered in addition to body acupuncture at DCA for an extra charge of only $10.