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Battlefield Acupuncture


Kari Smilko, Indianapolis, has plantar fasciitis “that feels like a stabbing pain in my foot ~ like someone’s kicking my foot.” So she tried battlefield acupuncture.

“It’s real quick ~ not quite a bee sting, but a sting. And I got relief for four days,” says Kari.

Battlefield acupuncture has the potential to decrease pain faster than traditional acupuncture because it focuses on acupuncture points in the ear, which affect the central nervous system and area of your brain that processes pain.

Richard C. Niemtzow, MD, a complementary and alternative medicine consultant to the surgeon general of the US Air Force, coined the term battlefield acupuncture. This is a simple, mobile way to help soldiers and combat veterans, but others can benefit as well.

Less can be more

Robert W. Ferguson, DC, FIAMA, an Indiana state-licensed chiropractor and acupuncturist, starts by placing just one short needle. After that, he’ll ask you to walk around to give it time to see if you are getting pain relief already or enough pain relief. Then he may insert another and ask you to walk around again.

“I can put up to five needles in each ear, but most of the time I don’t,” says Dr. Ferguson.

The needles are shorter than the ones used for traditional acupuncture so they do not stick out and you can sleep on your side with them in. Each needle has a small magnet on the end, so you can use the magnet your doctor gives you to take home to wave over it and get more pain relief at home.

Then the needles fall out on their own, typically after 3-4 days.


Infection is the biggest risk, so your doctor will sterilize the area where he will insert needles and wear gloves.

Five percent of people experience worse pain the next day, but that pain will simply go away.


If you have insurance that covers acupuncture, then battlefield acupuncture will be covered as well.

For more information, call Chiropractic Rehabilitation and Acupuncture in Indianapolis at (317) 876-7826.


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