DVIDS – News – MDG now offers battlefield acupuncture for pain relief


Maj. (Dr.) Jennifer Salguero is everything you would want in a primary care manager. Courteous, knowledgeable, kind and caring – a good listener. As medical director of the 377th Medical Group’s Family Practice Clinic, I knew she was a talented provider by reputation as well as title.

Yet as I listened to him talk about a possible treatment for the pain radiating from my knees, right heel and left elbow – Battlefield Acupuncture – and I was a bit skeptical. Maybe even scared. I was about to experience something I had never experienced, and probably not by accident.

Acupuncture was one of those things that I considered exotic, dangerous, and hopefully never necessary. I feel the same way about walking on hot coals or eating just the right amount of puffer fish. What was I getting myself into? But a more important question led me to accept and undertake the treatment: could it really help? I decided it was worth a try.

In addition to my pain, I had to consider the recent integration of treatment into our medical group and the proliferation encouraged by Air Force Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Mark A. Ediger. Ediger himself is a trained and certified Battlefield acupuncturist. Locally, Salguero has now trained 18 providers in family medicine, flight medicine, mental health, physiotherapy and even the 351st Battlefield Airman Training Squadron.

Providers in Kirtland have been administering the treatment to patient satisfaction and relief since September, according to Salguero, who told me what was going to happen to me.

“Battlefield Acupuncture is a series of five small, semi-permanent needles in each ear in a very specific formula for each patient in a very specific order,” she said. I declined his offer to see how “tiny” the needles were, but my wingman, Staff Sgt. JD Strong II, who photographed the procedure, agreed.

“They’re tiny,” he said.

As I provided written and verbal consent, the doctor explained that Battlefield Acupuncture was developed by Dr. Richard Niemtzow of the Air Force in 2001. By studying and practicing traditional acupuncture, Niemtzow learned that a prescribed series of needles inserted into the surface of the ear could provide pain relief for many types of pain.

“Dr. Niemtzow has identified strategic points that have helped reduce pain in most people,” Salguero said. “We find that it works in eight out of 10 people. that it lowers the pain scores a bit. We’ll start by inserting a small hypoallergenic gold needle into that ear, and then we’ll check your pain…”

She inserted the first needle, smaller than a thumbtack with a cap on one end to hold it in place. I only felt a little pinch and snap. The pain was so slight that I couldn’t tell exactly when the insertion started or was finished. Salguero backed off and asked me how I felt.

It was hard to describe, but as soon as the needle was in place, a very fine low-frequency tingle ran down my right shoulder. We got up, walked down the hall, and she asked me to reevaluate my pain level. My right knee went from 4-2 and my right heel from 3-1. This process was repeated nine more times and each time the pain in various joints was slightly reduced. I was no longer tense in anticipation of the needles – there was not enough pain to absorb and the relief was tangible with each insertion – more gain than pain.

I left the clinic with much less pain. The needles remained in place and effective until the following afternoon. As someone who has been in pain for months now, this was a welcome relief. According to Salguero, anyone eligible for treatment at the 377th Medical Group who is at least 18 years old and not pregnant is also eligible for Battlefield Acupuncture. I really recommend it.

For more information and to schedule treatment, individuals should contact their primary care managers through the 377th Medical Group at 846-3200, or discuss treatment at their next appointment. People can also visit Tricare Online to schedule an appointment.

Date taken: 02.09.2018
Date posted: 02.09.2018 17:22
Story ID: 265455

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