Modified Battlefield Acupuncture Does Not Reduce Pain or Improve Quality of Life in Patients with Lower Extremity Surgery

Mil Med. 2019 Mar 1;184(Suppl 1):545-549. doi: 10.1093/milmed/usy277.


Introduction: This study seeks to determine if modified Battlefield Acupuncture is more effective at relieving acute extremity pain, reducing medication use, and improving quality of life than placebo acupuncture or standard care after lower extremity surgery.

Methods: We conducted a multi-site 3-arm randomized, double-blind controlled trial of standard care alone versus standard care + placebo auricular acupuncture with semi-permanent needles versus standard care + modified battlefield acupuncture with semi-permanent needles for lower extremity surgery at two Air Force hospitals. Subjects reported pain level immediately after acupuncture, 24, 48, 168, and 720 hours later to a blinded research associate. Additionally, subjects completed a PIQ-6 30 days post-operatively, and opioid use was tracked for 30 days post-operatively.

Results: Two hundred thiry-three subjects >18 years old (92 females and 141 males) with a mean age of 44.5 years were randomized with 81 randomized to modified BFA, 74 randomized to placebo acupuncture, and 78 randomized to standard care. Overall pain levels were unchanged at each time point between groups. Outcomes showed unchanged pain, opioid and quality of life between groups.

Conclusion: The use of modified battlefield acupuncture protocol does not change pain opioid use or quality of life in those with lower extremity surgery.

Keywords: battlefield acupuncture; lower extremity; post-operative; trauma.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods
  • Acupuncture Therapy / standards*
  • Adult
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Orthopedic Procedures / methods*
  • Orthopedic Procedures / psychology
  • Orthopedic Procedures / standards
  • Pain Management / methods
  • Pain Management / standards*
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Psychometrics / instrumentation
  • Psychometrics / methods
  • Quality of Life / psychology*