The United States military has found that Traditional Chinese acupuncture provides immediate relief for acute and chronic pain without the risk of addiction that can come from opioids. The process involves a small needle inserted into the ear, which has a “central effect” on the nervous system and the cingulate gyrus, an area of the brain that processes pain.
“They don’t have to wait hours for medications to take maximal effect or endure side effects, like drowsiness or allergic reactions, of common pain medications,” said Air Force Col. Lynda Vu, who recently administered Battlefield Acupuncture. “This allows personnel to go back to the fight with minimal impact to continuing mission operations.”
Acupuncture may not work on every patient, but it can also be used in combination with oral medications, which Niemtzow said are helpful treatment options when used appropriately. Patients are encouraged to explore other holistic treatment options, and to look beyond medicine and surgery. Vu recommended full spectrum acupuncture as a complementary therapy.