Nancy E. Reid, MHA, DHSc, PA-C, DFAAPA
One of the most common causes of a military member to present to medical is low back pain (LBP). Historically this has caused a reduction of manhours for members to return to duty, decreased effective combat training, and mission readiness. Low back pain is routinely treated in the military setting with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medication, physical therapy, and then opioid medications which can all cause loss of time, injury, and/or risk of addiction for the military member. Acupuncture is an effective modality that can quickly return the member to duty and has multiple benefits for the chronic low back pain patient. The Defense Health Agency (DHA) has established levels of acupuncture providers can obtain to allow acupuncture techniques to return members to duty. This paper will review the new DHA instructions and present how to effectively use auricular acupuncture in the military setting for the treatment of low back pain.
This author will compare different auricular acupuncture treatments for low back pain by a review of existing literature. This author will also reference the new DHA instructions on clinician levels of medical acupuncture.
The review of the literature showed that acupuncture is as effective as that of oxycodone in the treatment of low back pain. DHA is expanding the scope of practice for many providers to use various types of medical acupuncture in the treatment of low back pain.
The use of narcotics to treat patients with low back pain can introduce high risk to the patient and contribute to chronic opioid use, abuse, disability, and/or death. Medical acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for LBP and can quickly and easily be administered for LBP. Auricular acupuncture is an easily learned skill that can be rapidly deployed in the clinical setting and should be taught to more front-line clinicians treating LBP.
Hare Z. Treating Low Back Pain with Auricular Acupuncture in a Military Setting. University of Lynchburg DMSc Doctoral Project Assignment Repository. 2021; 3(3).
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