A recent development of acupucture to help with pain management and opiate abuse and addiction in the military ranks. Battlefield Acupuncture BFA was developed in 2001 by Dr Richard Niemtzou director of US Airforce Acupuncture and Integrative Medical Centre. He found that BFA provided immediate pain relief for acute and chronic pain without the risk of addiction
BFA is an ear acupuncture protocol that places semi permanent needles in a specific sequence to five points on the ear’s surface. It is suggested that this stimulation influences the Central Nervous System to release of B-endorphin and cytokine creating an analgesic and anti inflammatory response to pain.
According to Air Force Colonel Lynda Vu who administered BFA while deployed in Qatar:
They don’t have to wait for for hours for medication to take maximal effect or endure side effects like drowsiness or allergic reactions of common pain medication (...) BFA allows personnel to go back to the fight with minimal impact to continue mission operations (...) Service members who use BFA can still fly aircraft, unlike those who use opiates
The Defence & Veterans Centre for Integrative Pain Management and the Veterans Health Administration National Pain Management Programme Office completed a $5.4 million acupuncture education programme to train up health providers with the BFA protocol. The Department of Defence and Veterans Health have embraced BFA for its efficacy and duration of effect in treating headache, acute and chronic back and musculoskeletal pain and neuropathic pain.