Battlefield Acupuncture and How it Can Help Reduce Pain

Battlefield Acupuncture or BA is an aspect of acupuncture therapy aimed initially at treating the pain suffered on the war front where pain medications were not available. Created by Dr. Niemtzow, MD, this alternative medicine technique has gained a deeper audience now. People in all walks of recognize its usefulness and effectiveness where other measures have failed to reduce their pain. Sometimes BA is confused with NADA, which treats addiction behaviors using auricular (ear) acupuncture. Nonetheless, BA is different because it treats pain. 

BA utilizes ear point stimulation combined with patient input during the therapy to determine how many points to engage and how long treatment takes. Your practitioner will choose a maximum of five locations or zones on each ear, but sometimes only one point is required. At the end of treatment, the recipient walks away with one to five gold, steel or titanium ear needles (ASP needles, aka semi-permanent needles) strategically placed on the ear cartilage and, hopefully, a relaxed demeanor and less pain. The ASP needle is about 2 mm long.

Whether it be a headache, shoulder pain, neck pain, back or hip pain, foot or knee or leg pain, the pain of any source can be all-encompassing. BA can help to reduce pain in a quick treatment and help to reduce the sometimes vicious cycle of pain-spasm-pain that exists. Many types of practitioners can receive training and certification in BA- chiropractors, medical doctors, PTs, acupuncturists. They can use BA where other methods have failed, or as a stand-alone procedure if desired. The author doesn’t see BA as a holistic method in that it is a quick way to reduce pain without delving into the source of the pain or the actual cause of the problem. Nonetheless, BA does have its place and value and can help people reduce their dependence on opiates, for instance. 

IN BA, the provider will ask as the patient where his pain is and how bad the pain is on a scale of one to ten. After choosing needle material (gold, steel or titanium) and dominant side, she inserts the first ASP needle into the ear zone at a region near the ear lobule. The recipient is asked to stand and walk a bit and assess pain level. If unchanged, a second needle is inserted into the opposite ear, same location. This procedure is repeated bilaterally with additional points added up and around the ear until pain reduction occurs. BA clients can leave the ASP needles in place until they fall out or until their next appointment, with some cautions regarding ear care. 

For instance, patients should avoid over-exertion for 6-12 hours after ASP needle insertion to help the treatment effects solidify. One can bathe and shower, as usual, being careful not to rub the ear too vigorously. Use a hairdryer about 6″ from the ear to reinvigorate points as desired. If the needles fall out, collect them in a lidded container or attach them to a piece of tape in an envelope and return them to your practitioner if desired or dispose of them properly. Needles can remain in your ears for 5-7 days. If redness or irritation bother you and you wish to remove them, twist the small needles and pull them gently out. A warm shower will assist the process. Inspect your ears every day to check for irritation.

BA does not promise to heal or cure the source of a patient’s pain, but it can be a beneficial tool for pain sufferers. Call an acupuncturist in Chapel Hill, NC today for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Thanks to Acupractic Natural Healing Center and Acupuncture for their insight into acupuncture and pain relief.

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