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Battlefield Acupuncture for Pelvic Pain

Pelvic pain is a generic term used to describe symptoms that may arise from ovarian cysts, endometriosis, musculoskeletal disorders, painful menstrual periods, bladder problems such as cystitis, and numerous other medical conditions that can affect your pelvic region.

It can be chronic (long-term) and constant or cyclic and intermittent. Depending on what’s causing your pain, you might experience it as a dull ache, a sensation of fullness or heaviness, or a cramping pain that occurs throughout your pelvic area or in a certain location.   

Dr. Melissa Delgado is a gynecologist and chronic pelvic pain expert who also specializes in acupuncture. She always seeks to identify and treat the underlying cause of your pelvic symptoms whenever possible. She’s also very focused on relieving your pain through natural methods such as battlefield acupuncture.

Battlefield acupuncture follows the same principles as traditional acupuncture but adds a unique twist to this ancient form of Chinese medicine. It’s often highly effective and can relieve your pelvic pain within minutes without the potentially dangerous side effects caused by some medications.  

What is battlefield acupuncture?

The term “battlefield acupuncture” (BFA) was first used in 2001 by Colonel Richard Niemtzow MD, PhD. Initially provided at a United States military medical facility near Ramstein Air Base in Germany, it’s a form of acupuncture that uses small needles inserted in specific areas of the skin of the outer ear to block pain.  

BFA was offered to patients with moderate to severe pain following battlefield injuries who weren’t helped by traditional pain therapies. The results of this simple treatment were significant. Many patients reported as much as a 75% reduction in their pain after just five minutes. Pain medications are considered successful if they reduce your pain by 25%.

Dr. Niemtzow has since trained many healthcare professionals, including Dr. Delgado, how to use this form of acupuncture in their clinical practices.

And it’s not just for pelvic pain. Emergency room physicians are also excited about its use for low back pain. As reported in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, results of a small pilot study performed on 30 emergency room patients showed that BFA has significant potential for effectively reducing low back pain within minutes.  

How does battlefield acupuncture work?

Dr. Delgado uses specially designed, shortened acupuncture needles that are affixed to a small stud, typically gold. Unlike traditional acupuncture needles, these semi-permanent needles are shaped like tiny darts. They’re inserted in the appropriate acupuncture points of your outer ear and left in place, usually falling out on their own within two to four days.

There are up to five points along the outer ear that are traditionally used for battlefield acupuncture. Depending on the nature and cause of your pelvic pain, Dr. Delgado may use as few as two and may treat both ears or only one ear.

BFA is believed to influence your central nervous system pain processing functions and promote the release of pain-killing endorphins and anti-inflammatory cytokines. You may feel a slight prick or tingling sensation with the insertion of the needle, but the treatment itself is otherwise painless and takes just a few moments to complete.

How long does the pain relief from battlefield acupuncture last?

While even one session can relieve your pain for several days, Dr. Delgado often recommends twice weekly sessions at first to get your pain under sufficient control. She then typically stretches the treatments out to every other week, once a month, and eventually every two to three months.

There are no long-term risks or complications associated with BFA, which makes it a perfect solution for chronic or ongoing discomfort caused by endometriosis or other painful pelvic conditions.

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