Battlefield Acupuncture (BFA) is a unique auricular acupuncture procedure utilized by many Veterans Affairs Healthcare Administration facilities. Several previous studies have shown an immediate reduction in pain for up to 2 weeks post BFA. The long-term effects of BFA and its potential to decrease opioid use had yet to be analyzed. This study was conducted o analyze the effectiveness of BFA to decrease chronic pain immediately and 6 months after treatment and to decrease the number of opioids needed for management of chronic pain. This was a retrospective cohort study comparing veterans who received BFA and were prescribed opioids for their chronic pain to veterans who did not receive BFA. The treatment group included 24 veterans who received BFA and had opioid contracts. The comparison group consisted of 23 randomly selected veterans who had opioid contracts but did not receive BFA. A numeric rating scale (NRS) was used to measure pain before and after treatment, as well as 3 months prior and 6 months post. The average morphine mg equivalents for opioids 3 months prior and 6 months post treatment were also compared. Differences between groups were statistically analyzed by an analysis of variance and a Student’s -test. Significant average decreases of 1.3 points on the NRS occurred in 66.1% immediately after the procedure. No significant decreases in pain were found. No significant changes of the average number of opioids over the 9 months analyzed were found. BFA is effective for immediate pain reduction. Further research with a randomized controlled trial in a larger population is needed to assess BFA effects on chronic pain and opioid dependency.
Copyright 2020, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.