“I have no pain.”

With those words, Air Force Veteran Nadine Stanford became the first Community Living Center resident at VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System to complete a battlefield acupuncture (BFA) treatment.

Not more than 15 minutes before treatment, Stanford told VA Pittsburgh acupuncturist Amanda Federovich that the pain in her buttocks was a ten on the zero-to-10 pain scale. Ten reflects the worst pain Stanford could imagine.

Acupuncturist Amanda Federovich carefully places needles in Veteran Nadine Stanford’s ear.

Stanford had previously tried narcotic painkillers, analgesics, benzodiazepines, kinesthesia and music therapy. Nothing really worked for her pain until Federovich gently inserted five tiny needles into each of Stanford’s ears.

Five points on the ear correspond to specific areas of the body, explained Federovich. Point by point, the acupuncturist places needles in one ear and then the other until the patient says they feel better. By confining treatment to the ears, battlefield acupuncture practitioners can give care on the battlefield or whenever a service member’s entire body is not available for treatment.

“Oh yeah”

Each time Federovich placed a pair of needles, she asked Stanford to move her arms and hands. With every placement, Stanford found it easier to move. Every time Federovich asked Stanford if she wanted the treatment to continue, she responded with an enthusiastic “Oh yeah” or “Yes ma’am!”

“I was elated that Nadine was pain-free by the end of the session,” Federovich said. “Her daily life is a struggle due to pain from her contractures, spasms and wounds. It is very overwhelming to see her that happy and relaxed.”

Federovich cautioned that battlefield acupuncture doesn’t always work so quickly and dramatically. “The average response to BFA is a 2.2-point reduction in pain [on the zero-to-10 scale] from pre- to post-session. Some Veterans have a more significant pain reduction response than others. Having total pain relief is the best-case scenario.”

“I have no pain,” said Nadine Stanford after treatment.

Acupuncture a part of Whole Health

Federovich said that battlefield acupuncture, along with standard acupuncture, is a key component of the Whole Health movement. Whole Health focuses on outcomes the Veteran wants for their life, as opposed to diseases or injuries they may have. It also arranges care to meet those outcomes.

“We’re empowering our Veterans to be an active participant in their health care,” she said. “Things like chronic pain, anxiety, PTSD, these are things that battlefield acupuncture can address so the Veterans are not dependent on meds.”

Federovich is the first advanced practice nurse at VA Pittsburgh to be certified in battlefield acupuncture. As a result, she is ready to train other health care practitioners. “I am eager to roll BFA out to the rest of the facility. I am hopeful that other Veterans will have similar responses and improve their quality of life.”

Keith E. Gottschalk is a public affairs specialist with the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.


Read more:

Whole Health puts the focus on you, the Veteran

Winter Sports Clinic participants find relief with battlefield acupuncture

Charleston Veteran battles chronic pain, finds recovery, family

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Published on Nov. 13, 2019

Estimated reading time is 2.6 min.

Views to date: 1,073


  1. John December 4, 2019 at 4:43 pm

    @Dale have you tried it

  2. Merlin Mundy November 22, 2019 at 11:55 am

    I have Battlefield Acupuncture done at Roudebush Hospital in Indianapolis. I have neuropathy in both lower extremities & in my left hand. I tried various pills & ointments, none of them helped. I also get a deep tissue massage twice a month at a local provider (I have to pay for that). Before I started doing these two two treatments I was at the point to where I could barely walk. I had given up using a treadmill in my exercise program because because I could not walk on it. I guess everyone has to find what works for them. The BFA & massage gives me the pain relief I need to be able to work out in a gym 3 times a week with pain at a level I can tolerate & not take any pain medication.

  3. Morris M. November 21, 2019 at 11:10 am

    Pain is subjective. A 2/10 for one person can be a 5/10 for someone else. Acupuncture is not for everyone, but there are proven therapeutic effects for some. Please do your research prior to posting. Even a placebo effect can garner up to a 30% effect in symptom relief. Holistic care or complementary alternative therapy is a growing body of treatment. One that is not for everyone but can be beneficial to others. Every human body is unique in the way that we are wired. Some therapies are more effective for some than others. Medicine from both the East and West is a science and an art. To believe one algorithm works for the masses is foolish an irresponsible. Once again, please do the research before shutting down a therapy that can be beneficial to others.

    • Edward Harry November 21, 2019 at 1:33 pm

      I couldn’t agree more on your pain being subjective comment.

      I to have a very similar story mine involve a majority of the whole health modalities, I have participated in battlefield acupuncture, acupuncture, cupping, chair yoga, and Reiki. Not only do I have a spinal cord stimulator implanted for reflex sympathetic dystrophy in my lower extremities and a replacement hip on my good side, but I have been on able to place my foot flat on the ground and 16 years yet moments after my first regular acupuncture I was doing just that.

      It is amazing and wonderful testament to the VA system but they are employing these techniques from eastern medicine and I am forever grateful.

      • Edward Harry November 21, 2019 at 1:55 pm

        I apologize for spelling errors I was using text to speech and should’ve checked it more thoroughly

  4. Greg Hinz November 21, 2019 at 10:30 am

    BFA works for ME. Healing touch works for ME. Reiki works for ME. Being totally open minded to try something new and to “help yourself” by changing your diet(check out Dr Steven Gundry’s, “the plant paradox” book and diet) after only 2 months of doing this for ME… 28#’s fell off, my cane stands alone in the corner, I am feeling much better physically and mentally! A small battle leading towards victory and the war is getting easier!
    One’s mind set and willingness to change one’s self for the better is monumental! Everyone has heard the phrase… You are what you eat? well, You are what you think as well!
    Don’t judge people for what you think you see, you don’t know their pain. Maybe instead engage them in conversation? Humor maybe?
    VA whole health program is spot on! Get involved! Give it a honest chance and some time and if it doesn’t work for you then you will at least know.
    I’ll end with this to ponder… Your appetite will change your diet, food or otherwise. Think about it…

  5. Jim D November 21, 2019 at 8:54 am

    It works for me!

    Everyone reacts differently to pain and treatment methods, find what works for you.

  6. Dan November 21, 2019 at 8:42 am

    Tried acupuncture. Minimal (if any) positive result.

  7. Luis Angel Gomez November 21, 2019 at 6:37 am

    Accupuncture isn’t for everyone. Its been around for over 3000 years ago. I personally have benefit from Battle Field Accupuncture. I just don’t count on one form of treatment for my chronic pains. Whole Health gave this Veteran other alternatives then just medication. I highly recommend trying accupuncture. Talk to your Primary Doctor but most importantly give Whole Health a shot. It my save your life.

  8. Bruce Dew November 20, 2019 at 11:16 pm

    Totally ridiculous, had this done 3 times and only thing it does is make your ears hurt. And really a 10 pain level is very seldom real unless u are suffering so bad u can’t even move, been there, done that. I see ppl walk in to clinic all the time and tell there doctors they have 9/10 pain but yet they drove to va and walked to clinic. Lot of bull just like the combat acupuncture.

  9. Bruce Dew November 20, 2019 at 11:14 pm

    Totally ridiculous, had this done 3 times and only thing it does is make your ears hurt. And really a 10 pain level is very seldom real unless u are suffering so bad u can’t even move, been there, done that. I see ppl walk in clinic all the time and tell there doctors they have 9/10 pain but yet they drove to va and walked to clinic. Lot of bull just like the combat acupuncture.

  10. Dale Greene November 20, 2019 at 12:30 pm

    There are no reliable studies that show acupuncture is effective for any pain relief over the placebo effect. Please don’t scam veterans.
    This article is especially egregious claiming maximum pain, (10 on the scale), is totally releaved with auricular acupuncture in minutes.

  11. Dale G November 20, 2019 at 10:32 am

    Acupuncture is a scam. Don’t scam veterans!

Comments are closed.

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