Capt. Elsa Karman, a 7th Sustainment Brigade battle captain, walked into the medical clinic in Afghanistan for treatment of chronic back and neck pain with Ear Acupuncture one of the newest treatment techniques being used by the military.
A medical professional Lt. Col. Betty Garner, the Joint Combat Casualty Research Team deputy director and trained acupuncturist, visited the Special Troops Battalion, Task Force Resolute, medical clinic on Kandahar Airfield to conduct battlefield acupuncture for soldiers, Oct. 22.
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 Lt. Col. Garner. “Battlefield acupuncture treatment is being taught to many special operations soldiers for its applications in combat and its ability to reduce pain immediately.”“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. ”Acupuncture pain management is desirable as a treatment as it can eliminate some of the need for pain medication. Battlefield Acupuncture 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 medication could take them out of the fight,” said Lt. Col. Garner. “Acupuncture is as effective as many on the prescription pain pills. ” Lt. Col. Garner will return periodically to the Resolute clinic treat new patients with Acupuncture. “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 Capt.Karman. “I am going to go back as often as I can to get this done.”