Why Is It Called Battlefield Acupuncture?
It is a well-known fact that Acupuncture is a Chinese method of treatment that was developed eons ago. But Battlefield Acupuncture is relatively new. In fact, it is very new.
Conceived and developed by Dr. Richard Niemtzow in 2001, BFA or Battlefield Acupuncture was primarily used as a form of therapy for veterans and combat soldiers of the US military.
Chronic pain is a serious problem for army men. For those who have been involved in serious combat, the resulting pain may last for even a year. War veterans and soldiers resorted to taking opioids and other pain medications to handle the intense pain. While these drugs might’ve had a profound effect on the pain, it also led to addiction and abuse of the very medication.
BFA: Born out of necessity
Dr. Niemtzow’s method of Acupuncture was specifically designed for combat veterans and soldiers. Thus the name Battlefield Acupuncture.
BFA involves the insertion of mini acupuncture needles in specific pressure points in the ears. The BFA needles can be described as tiny conical darts that are pierced in specific locations in the ear until they fall out after 4 or 5 days.
This form of therapy also goes by the name of Auriculotherapy. The prescribed locations of the darts are:
- Cingulate gyrus as point A
- Thalamus as point B
- Omega 2 as point C
- Point 0 as point D
- Shen Men as point E
A Better Understanding Of BFA
Battlefield Acupuncture is based on the fact that influences the central nervous system to trigger the release of beta-endorphins. BFA is also believed to have a an effect on the cingulate gyrus- an area of the brain that processes pain.
So what does the treatment entail?
- The left or right ear is chosen for the piercing of the needles.
- ASP needles or semi- permanent needles are pierced into Point A or the Cingulate Gyrus.
- The patient is given a couple of minutes to walk around to determine whether pain attenuation or lessening of the intensity of pain has occurred.
- When the patient is ready for the next step, an ASP needle is placed in point B or the anterior thalamus. This point is supposedly the most painful point and after ambulation, the patient achieves a higher level of pain tolerance.
- ASP needles are then placed in a sequential manner in the other 3 points, namely Omega 2, Point Zero and Shen Men.
- At the end of the process, the dominant ear will have ASP needles in all the BFA pressure points.
- The level of pain is now determined. If the level of pain is 0-1/10, the goal of the therapy is achieved.
- The needles stay in place for a few days before they are removed.
How To Take Care Of Yourself During BFA Treatment
If you are opting for BFA, you have to know the dos and don’ts.
- Avoid heavy workouts or any other form of physical strain.
- Take plenty of rest.
- Avoid alcohol consumption for at least 6 hours.
- Give yourself 24 hours to resume normal activity.
- Ensure extra care while showering or bathing.
- Take note of how you feel.
- Make a note of the pain levels at different intervals of time.
- Make regular observations for any irritation or infection in the pierced ear.
Important POints To Consider In BFA
Who can opt for Battlefield Acupuncture?
The treatment is available for anyone who wants it and has a good endurance of pain. Here’s a list of the people who should NOT opt for BFA:
- Pregnant ladies
- People with the fear of needles.
- People with low thresholds of pain.
- Patients with bleeding disorders.
- Patients taking blood-thinning medication.
Possible side-effects of BFA
Bleeding and bruising at the points of piercing is sometimes inevitable. The patient is also likely to experience dizziness or in some cases, they may faint. Nausea and lightheadedness are some of the common complaints that can happen during the procedure.
These symptoms are likely to worsen within the first 24-48 hours of the treatment. But there will be a remarkable improvement after the mentioned time period.
The person also needs to stay alert for signs of redness, swelling, warmth and increase in pain at the needle site.
The benefits of BFA
Battlefield has its own list of benefits in spite of the pain one has to endure during the process. BFA has a positive effect on headaches, acute and chronic musculoskeletal pain and neuropathic pain.
Most importantly, it serves the very purpose it was designed for: It allows combat soldiers and war veterans to have immediate relief from pain that having to take narcotics which will affect their vigilance and alertness.
It does not induce drowsiness or other allergic reactions. The ears are an easily accessible point which makes this a convenient practice as it does not need any undressing during the combat.