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Acupuncture for Pain, Weight Loss and More

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PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- All TRICARE beneficiaries can now receive auricular acupuncture within the Pain Management Clinic at Naval Hospital Pensacola (NHP).

Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points on the body by a variety of techniques, including the insertion of thin filiform metal needles through the skin.

Three nurses at NHP provide auricular acupuncture, which involves the treatment of the ear with very fine needles to treat conditions such as migraines, general pain, nausea, vomiting, post-operative pain and weight loss.

"Acupuncture is a good alternative to traditional pain therapies such as narcotics," said Mary Pugh-Farrow, acupuncture nurse at NHP. "It is a good holistic alternative that is noninvasive with minimal chance of complications unlike other types of medications. Also, it works quickly."

A typical appointment will last between 15-20 minutes. Once the patient arrives, the staff checks them in, takes vital signs and reviews the chief complaint that brought the patient into the clinic. One of the acupuncture nurses will then describe the procedure and the expected outcomes before completing the procedure. Many patients notice pain relief before leaving their appointment.

"Most people feel results almost immediately," said Ashley Blake, an acupuncture nurse at NHP. "Some medications can take four to six weeks before the patient feels any relief, however, acupuncture can offer relief for most patients almost instantly. It is rare when someone doesn't receive instant relief."

NHP offers four types of auricular acupuncture with the most common method provided being Battlefield Acupuncture (BFA), which addresses areas of chronic pain. BFA consists of inserting five tiny and sterile 2 mm needles into specific points of the ear where they can remain for up to three days before naturally falling out.

The thought of needles being inserted into the ear may be frightening for some, but the initial pain is mild and quick. Plus, the benefits are proven and effective for most patients. 

To receive auricular acupuncture at the Pain Management Clinic, patients need a referral from their primary care manager (PCM). For more information, please contact the Pain Management Clinic at (850) 505-PAIN (7283).

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