Acupuncture may be an effective non-opioid treatment for pain in the VA


Acupuncture represents a non-opioid alternative for pain treatment, but many institutions, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, are resisting the use of the treatment.

Acupuncture represents a non-opioid alternative for pain treatment, but many institutions are reluctant to use the treatment. A recent article described how the integration of acupuncture within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), as well as in general practice, can help provide rapid pain relief for patients and should be further considered for the control of pain. pain.

The authors explained a neurologist’s 28-month experience treating patients in an outpatient AV clinic, suggesting that all medical providers be trained in simple acupuncture techniques.

“In 2017, from Durham VA Medical System alone, there were 2,946 referrals to community providers for acupuncture among 2,135 patients at an estimated cost of $1,712,974.55,” the authors noted. “The use of acupuncture as part of pain control planning needs to be considered with greater urgency. Among medical specialties, neurology is uniquely suited to be a leader in integrating pain management. acupuncture in daily practice.

An author completed a 300 hour training course in medical acupuncture in September 2015 and after 3 months received the privilege of including acupuncture treatments in his practice. The author noted that he has performed nearly 2,000 treatments on patients he believes would benefit from acupuncture or who have been referred by doctors for a non-pharmaceutical pain relief option.

the study describes the process for considering acupuncture treatment in patients. The author, the neurologist, would perform a neurological examination while the nurse accesses consent for an acupuncture procedure from the electronic medical record. Following the examination, the neurologist discusses a plan with the patient and offers acupuncture treatment if necessary.

Additionally, the article discussed how institutions, especially the VA, are generally resistant to the use of acupuncture due to concerns about sanctioning the use of a treatment that many believe works. by placebo effect. However, the authors pointed out that there is some evidence that acupuncture techniques can be effective in controlling pain because the treatment stimulates endorphin release.

“Several painful conditions commonly seen in a general neurology practice are particularly responsive to acupuncture. Patient and provider satisfaction are powerful motivators to aggressively promote auricular acupuncture training (4 or 8 hours) to of all medical providers,” the authors concluded. “Neurology training programs should include all medical acupuncture training. Acupuncture skills should be a core competency required of all neurologists in general practice.


Freedman M, Bierwirth PA. Pragmatic use of acupuncture in a neurology practice: Experience in a Veterans Administration neurology outpatient clinic. medical acupuncture. 2018;30(5):242-244. doi: 10.1089/acu.2018.1290.


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