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    ‘Resolute’ medical clinic uses new holistic treatment to poke the pain away

    Inserting the needle

    Photo By Master Sgt. Alexander Burnett | Lt. Col. Douglas Maurer, the Task Force Resolute surgeon, feels the small needles...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Alexander Burnett 

    7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary)

    KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - When Capt. Elsa Karman, a 7th Sustainment Brigade battle captain, walked into the medical clinic in Afghanistan for treatment of chronic back and neck pain, she did not think she would leave with several new pieces of metal in her ears. The small, ear-pierced style studs protruding from different points in her ear represent one of the newest treatment techniques being used by the military.

    A medical professional visited the Special Troops Battalion, Task Force Resolute, medical clinic on Kandahar Airfield to conduct battlefield acupuncture for soldiers, Oct. 22.

    The visit of Lt. Col. Betty Garner, the Joint Combat Casualty Research Team deputy director and trained acupuncturist, was coordinated by Capt. Joe Pena, an STB, TF Resolute physician’s assistant.

    “We get a lot of soldiers coming to the clinic with injuries and chronic pain,” said Pena. “When I saw this treatment was available on Kandahar Airfield, I wanted to bring it to our soldiers and see how it worked.”

    The process of battlefield acupuncture was developed by Dr. Richard Niemtzow, a former Air Force medical practitioner, and is named for its ability to be performed with military helmets still on the patient. The technique is most commonly used to treat pain, but can also result in reduction in anxiety, stress and better sleep, said Garner.

    “Techniques like battlefield acupuncture are being used to treat everything from pain inflicted by wounds in combat to helping alleviate pain from an old sports injury,” said Garner. “This treatment is being taught to many special operations soldiers for its applications in combat and its ability to reduce pain immediately.”

    The treatment is administered by having several spring-loaded, gold tipped needles injected into five key points on the patient’s ears. The immediate results are a reduction in pain and euphoric feeling. The needles remain in place and as the body heals, it pushes them out naturally.

    “While the treatment was being administered there were a few moments where I felt the pin prick of the needles going in,” said Lt. Col. Douglas Maurer, the Task Force Resolute surgeon, who got the treatment to help with pain in his left calf muscle. “I felt less pain in my leg and a feeling of euphoria immediately after the procedure was finished.”

    This form of pain management is also desirable as a treatment because it can eliminate some of the need for pain medication. Battlefield acupuncture, if used correctly, can reduce pain with the same intensity as some narcotic drugs without the after effects. The procedure can also be administered quickly in combat situations.

    “Many soldiers don’t want to take pills for their pain anymore and the side effects of some of the medication would take them out of the fight,” said Garner. “This treatment is non-invasive, and it is as effective as many on the prescription pain pills.”

    Garner will return periodically to the Resolute clinic to conduct the procedure for new patients and receive feedback from those who have already tried it.

    “I had a headache all the way up until the point Doctor Garner treated me with battlefield acupuncture, and now the headache is gone,” said Karman. “I am going to go back as often as I can to get this done.”



    Date Taken: 10.22.2011
    Date Posted: 10.22.2011 06:58
    Story ID: 78842

    Web Views: 393
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