I will begin commuting to a local VA hospital in Salisbury, NC next month to treat veterans one day per week. Salisbury is one of only a dozen or so VA sites that was chosen to participate in a new study. The goal is to collect data that will help to systematically determine what complimentary modalities (CM’s) are offered through the VA, how frequently they are offered, and what type of practitioner offering them. This follows a decade of research showing the efficacy of acupuncture and other CM’s in treating pain and PTSD. They also have an opioid unit at the facility that helps veterans to withdraw from opioids using acupuncture along with other rehabilitation efforts.

The top ten CM’s offered by the VA are:

  1. Stress Management Relaxation Therapy
  2. Mindfulness (meditation)
  3. Guided Imagery (meditation)
  4. Yoga
  5. Progressive Muscle Relaxation Therapy (PMRT)
  6. Art Therapy
  7. Acupuncture
  8. Music Therapy
  9. Biofeedback
  10. Animal Assisted Therapy

Veterans are also able to receive acupuncture treatments at no cost at Dr. Catherine Browne’s clinic in North Carolina

This effort in creating a working model of complementary integrative healing modalities follows years of research including surveys that determined that complementary and integrative approaches may empower Veterans to improve their own well-being.  VA research projects co-funded with the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health and the Department of Defense (DOD) have spawned an initiative called the VA’s Blueprint for Excellence with a goal of caring for veterans in a better way. The conditions most veterans seek complimentary healing services are most commonly:

Reducing opioid use among veterans is a strong motivation for implementing acupuncture and other “alternative” therapies into VA clinical settings. In October 2013 the VA Opioid Safety Initiative project was launched highlighting concerns within VA of the use of opioids for pain management. The goal of this project was to examine multi-pronged approaches to the management of pain including complimentary methods such as acupuncture. Then, in February 2015, the NCCIH undertake a large-scale research study to look at non-pharmacological approaches to pain treatment. In this respect, the VA is quite progressive and I am proud to be part of this research effort that will inevitably help to lessen the prolonged suffering of our veterans!


Qaseem A, Wilt TJ, McLean RM, Forciea MA, for the Clinical Guidelines Committee of the American College of Physicians. Noninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med. ;166:514–530. doi: 10.7326/M16-2367

Kligler, B. (2017). Integrative Health in the Veterans Health Administration. Medical Acupuncture29(4), 187–188. http://doi.org/10.1089/acu.2017.29055.bkl

Click to access FY2015_VHA_CIH_signedReport.pdf

Natural Therapies for Opioid Addiction

4 thoughts on “VA Using Acupuncture for Pain, PTSD, and Opioid Cessation

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