Battlefield Acupuncture for the Clinician

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It has just been announced that the US Air Force will begin training doctors deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The treatment uses small needles in the skin of the ear to block pain in as little as five minutes and can last several days or more. The procedure was originally introduced in 2008 in Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC), where it has been applied to injured service members and local patients for pain relief, with significant results. The nearby hospital Ramstein Air Base in Germany, is the largest and most modern American military medical center outside the United States.

One of LRMC’s pain specialists has personally seen a 25% increase in range of motion and a 50% reduction in pain related to chronic shoulder and upper back pain he has endured for several years. Due to his exceptional success, he recruited his most difficult patients for whom traditional pain treatment offered limited relief. Within minutes of inserting the needles, many said their pain was reduced by up to 75%. A 25% reduction would be considered success with traditional painkillers.

Despite its name, battlefield acupuncture is not deliberately designed to replace standard medical care for war-related injuries, but to help relieve pain and, in many cases, eliminate the need for pain. analgesics for acute and chronic pain. It is extremely easy to learn and can be taught to anyone in an extremely short time. The procedure allows a provider to confidently complete a treatment and expect a good result within minutes. There are virtually no complications and patients experience little or no discomfort.



It has been reported that only about 15% of patients do not respond to acupuncture, but among those who do, their pain reduction often averages around 75%. Frequency of application and duration of relief varies with each patient, but treatment can progress from about twice a week to as little as once a month or more. In some cases, additional acupuncture treatment may not be necessary.

There are five specific points that are commonly used, however many practitioners only use two. The five points are: Wonderful Point (also known as Point Zero), Shen Men, Omega 2, Thalamus and Cingulate Gyrus. The Cingulate Gyrus point and the Thalamus are the two points that all practitioners will use.

As in so many acupuncture procedures, practitioners can place the points in different places. The cingulate gyrus has also been called the subcortex by Terry Oleson, PhD (international authority in auriculotherapy). Beate Stritmatter, MD, a German authority places it slightly differently (see Illustration). Personally, I use both slots just to make sure I cover all my bases.

The Omega 2 point is inside the helix. Due to the thinness of the auricle at this point, any stimulation from the outside will come into contact with the Omega 2 point. Some may want to approach this point from the inside, but personally I will. outside.

The Thalamus point is directly opposed on the inner side to the outer points known as the Temple or Sun. Most battlefield acupuncture practitioners approach the Thalamus from the internal position. However, I have always thought that this point could be accessed just as easily by stimulation of the Temple (Sun) points from outside and have used it that way for years.

The official procedure uses semi-permanent gold needles, which are placed directly into the tip and dropped on their own within a day or two. I have seen wonderful results with a low level laser directly on the points, as well as electronic stimulation. Conventional acupuncture needles can be stimulated for 10 minutes. Then use an acu-patch, which is a small sphere of stimulation attached with a flesh-colored adhesive. This can be left in place for several days or longer.

This procedure is too valuable to neglect in your general practice. It’s easy, fast and efficient. Don’t limit yourself to acute or chronic pain with this combination of points. It is also extremely effective against anxiety, neurosis, neurasthenia and any psychological or stress-related problem.


Click here for previous articles by John Amaro, LAc, DC, Dipl. Ac.(NCCAOM), Dipl.Med.Ac.(IAMA).































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