Monday, September 26, 2011

Pain Relief for Veterans

For several years, the military has recognized the benefit of incorporating acupuncture therapy in a holistic treatment plan for PTSD and substance abuse issues, even if they generally do not used trained, qualified, and licensed acupuncturists to perform it. As miffed as I am that they allow the "jab-and-go" providers instead of hiring people with an actual degree in the medicine (yes, I am jealous . . . and available for collaboration), at least they recognize the contribution of the modality. Our soldiers and veterans are returning with some interesting autoimmune and auto-inflammatory diseases at a rate higher than the general population. Rheumatoid arthritis,  scleroderma, pernicious anemia, chronic recurrent multifocal osteomylitis - whether contracted by inhaling burning trash, as result of traumatic-brain injury, excessive vaccination (double vaccination in the cases where they lost a soldiers records "just in case") or physical manifestation of a psychological malady, there is no denying many of our vets are in physical and emotional pain. And so, I put aside my professional irritation and offer nothing but praise for using acupuncture as an adjunct for pain control in our wounded warriors.

Army looks toward new ways to fight the pain

Soldiers are getting alternative medicine.
Published 01:55 a.m., Monday, September 26, 2011

Sgt. 1st Class Jennifer Wright used to jog, walk, lift weights and ride her Harley-Davidson Fat Boy, the motorcycle she bought after serving in Iraq.

Today, she's among a growing legion of war veterans suffering from scleroderma, a painful and potentially fatal disease. Wright, 40, feels pain in her face, joints and toes. She's lost some of her hair, and her toenails fell off.

“It's to the point I want them to deaden the nerves in my face. But (the doctor) said if you do that you take a chance of developing muscle atrophy, Bell's palsy with the real bad facial droop, no muscle control,” she said. “I said I'm willing to take my chances. Just do something about it. It's just consumed me, and I'm miserable.”

Pain pills are part of the treatment, but in her case they don't last long, so an orthopedic physician's assistant last week performed an acupuncture treatment, injecting small gold needles into selected parts of her ear.

Her care is part of the Army's fledgling complementary alternative medicine program, which is testing new therapies, some of them unproven and one literally out of this world.

It's another option for GIs who have returned from combat with pain from a variety of wounds and illnesses, for whom the Army has spent billions on drugs that have resulted in complications, dependency, abuse and even accidental deaths and suicides.

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