Chronic pain affects at least 116 Million U.S. adults at an estimated cost of $650 billion annually in direct medical treatment and lost productivity. Approximately 25%-50% of community-dwelling older adults and 45%-80% of nursing home residents have substantial pain. Pain management is commonly medication-based and opioids are still widely used to treat pain. Although opioids may have some benefit for acute pain management, habitual use of these drugs for chronic pain carries many risks. In 2010, a Joint Task Force evaluated pain management in the military and veteran’s health care and found that there is a paucity of non-medication treatments for pain. Acupuncture was identified as a safe, effective and well-accepted modality for pain management. Unfortunately, there are not enough licensed acupuncturist in the Department of Defense(DOD) and the Veterans Administration(VA) to provide this service. Battlefield Acupuncture (BFA), developed by Dr. Richard Niemtzow, is a highly effective, easily-learned pain management technique. It uses just the ear and can be taught in 4 hours. Providers can credential in the VA and integrate BFA into their practice to successfully manage pain and reduce dependence on medications. Joint Incentive funding through the DOD and VA has allowed us to teach providers BFA.
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