Chronic pain is a serious problem for combat veterans and soldiers. In a sample of 2597 soldiers who had served in Afghanistan and Iraq, 44% reported pain lasting for more than 3 months, half of whom reported pain for 1 year or more. (JAMA Intern Med 2014;174:1400–1). Between 2010 to 2014, 65.5% of US military veterans reported pain in the previous 3 months, with 9.1% classified as having severe pain.


Battlefield Acupuncture / Battlefield Acupressure

Battlefield Acupuncture (BFA) is an Auriculotherapy (also called ear acupuncture or auricular acupuncture) protocol that was invented by Dr. Richard Niemtzow MD. He came up with the name BFA for the simple reason that it could be used on the battlefield when it was not advisable to use western pain medications.  

The BFA Protocol uses French auriculotherapy needles called ASP® needles.

ASP Needle

ASP® needle (aiguille semi-permanente)


ASP® needles come in three kinds of metals, gold, stainless steel ('classic') and titanium. The BAF protocol uses mainly the gold ones.

They are single use needles that can stay in the ear for a few days. BFA provides pain relief after your patients leave your clinic for days afterwards.

When ASP® needles are inserted into BFA points (we call them zones now) your patient may experience immediate pain relief. Along with muscular skeletal pain, BFA has successfully treated many other none pain related pathologies as well.

A question that is often asked is, “Can I use other needles and not the ASPs®?” Yes, you can, but your results will be limited at best. You notice that your clinical outcomes don’t achieve or address your patient pain.

The ASP® needles are designed to stay in the ear for up to a month. It is my experience and my colleagues’ that although there are other semi-permanent needles out there, the ASP® needles Sedatelec work best. It is hypothesized that the needles send a message right to the healing center in the brain to correct the patient’s pathology. It is believed that retaining the needles in the ear sends an continuous communication to the brain that creates a prolong reduction of pain.

The mechanism to how BFA works is still open for debate. The fact that BFA works is not even debatable! Over the past few years I have dedicated myself to figuring out how BFA works?

My research, at this time still lacks any scientific conclusion to this question. Though over the years I have observed some interesting observations related to BFA. I wrote and published my observations in the quarterly acupuncture journal “Sun and Moon.” I was the editor of “Sun and Moon” for 6 years. You can read about my observations by clicking here.