Background: Acupuncture is being offered to patients as part of routine medical care in selected military bases in the United States. There is little published information about the clinical outcomes associated with acupuncture in these clinical settings. Objective: The goal of this research was to assess clinical outcomes observed among adult patients who received acupuncture treatments at a United States Air Force medical center. Materials and Methods: This retrospective chart review was performed at the Nellis Family Medicine Residency in the Mike O'Callaghan Military Medical Center at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, NV. The charts were from 172 consecutive patients who had at least 4 acupuncture treatments within 1 year. The main outcome measures were prescriptions for opioid medications, muscle relaxants, benzodiazepines, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) in the 60 days prior to the first acupuncture session and in the corresponding 60 days 1 year later; and Measure Yourself Medical Outcome Profile (MYMOP2) values for symptoms, ability to perform activities, and quality of life. Results: Opioid prescriptions decreased by 45%, muscle relaxants by 34%, NSAIDs by 42%, and benzodiazepines by 14%. MYMOP2 values decreased 3.50-3.11 (P < 0.002) for question 1, 4.18-3.46 (P < 0.00001) for question 3, and 2.73-2.43 (P < 0.006) for question 4. Conclusions: In this military patient population, the number of opioid prescriptions decreased and patients reported improved symptom control, ability to function, and sense of well-being after receiving courses of acupuncture by their primary care physicians.
Keywords: acupuncture; military; opioids; pain.