In 2004, Army paratrooper Eric Sifford damaged vertebrae when a tree intercepted his jump and he fell about 30 feet. He has lived with incredible pain ever since.

Facing a bleak outlook, including the potential for multiple surgeries, Sifford felt like his options for pain relief had been exhausted. But recently, things changed. After nearly 30 year of Marine and Army service, the Veteran attributes his newly better health to successful Whole Health treatments.

Whole Health is an approach to care designed to empower and equip individuals to live their lives to the fullest, often incorporating complementary and integrative protocols that supplement traditional health care methods and promote wellness, as a different approach to conventional medical care. The process addresses health holistically, and when appropriate, partners with medications to prevent illness.

When possible, Whole Health keeps the body strong and, when confronted with illness, uses healing abilities the body already has to fight sickness, with the understanding that there isn’t just one answer but many contributors to good health.

Sifford’s recent joy and energetic attitude owe the lion’s share of gratitude to acupuncture. The procedure works by inserting disposable sterile needles into specific points to various depths at strategic points along meridians in the body, inciting energy flow toward a re-balance.

Numbness gone thanks to acupuncture

Next, the practitioner may gently move or twirl the needles after placement or apply heat or mild electrical pulses to the needles. In most cases, the needles remain comfortably in place for 25 to 40 minutes. For Sifford, the tiny tweaks and twirls have achieved what traditional medicine could not.

Veteran and his doctor shaking hands

Veteran Eric Sifford with Dr. Paras Mehta

“I had been suffering chronic numbness in parts of my body from that fall. Thanks to Dr. Mehta’s acupuncture treatment, that numbness is essentially gone.”

Dr. Paras Mehta is a board-certified VA physician in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Integrative Medicine at Salisbury VA. His training spans specialties in integrative, regenerative, allopathic, mind-body and functional medicine, five different styles of acupuncture, and an even larger array of tools regularly employed in the clinic.”

Remarkable instant sustained relief

As with any treatment plan, longevity, continuity and regularity play essential roles in success. Mehta said the aim is to use a series of acupuncture treatments to reduce pain, so it doesn’t interfere significantly with a patient’s quality of life. But he added that Sifford got a bonus that probably helped drive his passion and inspired him to keep his subsequent visits.

“Remarkably, within one treatment, his pain—which had been there for more than 15 years—responded dramatically,” Mehta said. The occurrence of instant, sustained relief for an older condition is not expected but, “We do see this from time to time in our clinic.”

After experiencing early results, the acupuncture effects on Sifford continued to build momentum. And he stuck with it.

The results were good enough that Sifford parlayed his acupuncture success with other forms of Whole Health care. He participates in Tai Chi and Whole Health Coaching, too.

Acupuncture successful for complex patients

Mehta confirmed Sifford’s excitement: “He was absolutely astounded that the result held, and even credits the treatment with transforming his life. He just turned 60 and has hope again for his upcoming season of life.”

Mehta doesn’t take that success lightly. He recalled his earlier years after residency, saying “I cut my teeth treating the most complex and advanced patients you can imagine, successfully, with acupuncture and other strategies. Those included stroke, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, and pain patients in the ICU.”

It has been well-documented that, in addition to a long list of benefits, acupuncture can relieve adverse feelings associated with chemotherapy-induced and postoperative illness, dental pain, tension headaches and migraines, labor pain, low back pain, osteoarthritis, menstrual cramps, and respiratory disorders, such as allergic rhinitis.

“Whole Health and integrative medicine is most effective as a part of, not instead of, conventional care,” Mehta said, adding that he relies on the medical community to continue to evolve and collaborate for the most effective strategies. “We have a tremendous opportunity to reduce pain medication burdens and draw from a toolkit incorporating evidence-informed practices from modalities that historically can be overlooked or even marginalized.

“A good example of the two systems working in tandem to improve patient outcomes is in oncology, for cancer care. At major cancer centers, acupuncture is a standard of care to help patients minimize side effects from their treatment regimens.”

Many VA facilities offer acupuncture with other complementary and integrative health care protocols that supplement traditional health care methods and promote wellness. Check with your primary care team and see VA’s Live Whole Health app for more information.

By Steve Wilkins

Salisbury VA public affairs specialist

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Published on Oct. 24, 2022

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Views to date: 1,549


  1. DeForest Hillyer October 30, 2022 at 10:20 pm

    Dr. Mehta has treated me. The results have always been exceptional.

  2. Ariel Nievera October 27, 2022 at 5:01 pm

    I go to the VA in Travis AFB. I want to get acupuncture for my neuropathy, thanjs

  3. Jerry Rosen October 27, 2022 at 5:54 am

    Can accupuncture help person with bad knee ? I have arthtritis in right knee, & walk with a cane.

  4. Lawrence Howard October 26, 2022 at 10:03 am

    While living in Portland Oregon I was able to receive acupuncture. Now living in Niceville Florida how do I apply to again receive acupuncture for relief from both arthritis and intestinal disorder.

  5. Dawn S. Morgason October 25, 2022 at 6:52 am

    I have had chiropractic manipulation and acupuncture treatments several years ago for low back pain. The development of osteoporosis and arthritis have made chiropractic manipulation no longer an option. I recently began more advanced acupuncture treatment and after only one session, I was able to get a full night of sleep.
    I expect that with further treatments I may finally be able to experience lower intensity daily pain and fewer level 10 debilitating pain episodes.

  6. Frank Sochacki October 24, 2022 at 4:25 pm

    Can acupuncture quiet down the sounds of tinnitus?

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