One of my passions is treating veterans. There are veterans in my family and I’m in awe of their bravery, while also knowing the hardships they face. Many come home with physical injuries, but many more come home with psychological and emotional injuries. Many people know that acupuncture can heal physical trauma, but not everyone knows that it can also help with the health of the mind, heart, and spirit.
Acupuncture was once considered fringy, but, after seeing incredible benefits over the years, it is now more widely accepted and is helping many in need. For example, “acupuncture is currently being provided at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C. for returning veterans experiencing combat stress and trauma. The military is also using acupuncture on the battlefield to help relieve pain.” As someone who believes in the power of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, it is great to know that this powerful system of medicine is helping so many of our heroes.
Combat Stress + PTSD
Combat stress, as defined by the Wounded Warrior Project, is a natural reaction to the exceedingly unnatural circumstances faced in a combat zone. While symptoms such as fatigue, loss of concentration, and decreased reaction time might seem straightforward, the implications run much deeper, often intertwining with more profound mental health concerns that veterans face upon returning from duty. If these symptoms resonate with your experience or that of a loved one, know that you’re not alone.
The rigors of military service, combined with the unique challenges of warfare, not only expose soldiers to imminent physical danger but also to a plethora of traumatic experiences that can leave lasting mental scars. These experiences, when not processed or addressed, can lead to the development of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a severe mental disorder characterized by a series of debilitating symptoms. Alarmingly, about 1 in 3 service members is believed to grapple with PTSD.
But what does PTSD look like? It is more than just trouble sleeping or relaxing. PTSD can manifest in multiple forms: flashbacks of traumatic events, chronic stress, prolonged tension, or even behavioral symptoms like agitation and irritability. Some veterans might face dissociative symptoms, where they feel detached from themselves and their surroundings, or even experience extrapyramidal symptoms, affecting their motor functions. The haunting memories of military combat trauma can also trigger emotional trauma, leading to symptoms like heightened anxiety and depression.
A particularly dark side of PTSD revolves around the trauma from instances of sexual violence that some service members might have encountered. These experiences can result in deeply rooted trust issues and further amplify feelings of detachment and dissociation.
Furthermore, PTSD is often accompanied by other mental disorders. Suicidal ideation, where one harbors thoughts of taking their own life, can be a grave consequence of untreated PTSD. Substance dependency often becomes a coping mechanism for many, leading to a downward spiral of deteriorating mental and physical health. Symptoms after combat exposure can also sometimes lead to cardiovascular diseases and metabolic syndrome due to the constant state of heightened stress and unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Delving deeper into the intricate web of combat details, it becomes evident that the disorder in veterans is a multi-faceted issue. It is not just about the immediate aftermath but the long-term implications on one’s mental and physical well-being.
Recognizing and addressing these symptoms after combat exposure is crucial. While the path to recovery is seldom straightforward, understanding the intricate links between military combat trauma, PTSD, and other related disorders offers a foundation for effective mental health care. Treatments tailored for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder can make a world of difference, helping our heroes find their way back to a more stable, peaceful existence. After all, our veterans have given so much; it’s only right that we provide the care and support they need in their battles at home.
Understanding Asthma in Veterans
Military service comes with its own unique set of challenges, both during active duty and in the years that follow. Among the myriad health issues that military veterans grapple with, asthma emerges as a significant concern, affecting a notable portion of the veteran community.
For many veterans, asthma isn’t something they’ve always had. Some might have been fit and in peak physical condition when they enlisted. However, their time in service, often characterized by exposure to varying conditions, can increase the likelihood of developing respiratory problems. There are several factors during their tenure that can contribute to this.
A key culprit is exposure to certain chemicals or hazardous environments. Military veterans stationed in areas where burn pits were used or those who were part of chemical warfare exercises might have inhaled substances that could trigger or exacerbate respiratory conditions. Prolonged exposure to dust, pollutants, and other particulates in various terrains can also contribute to the onset of asthma or worsen existing conditions. Moreover, the stress of combat, paired with high-intensity physical exertion, can sometimes be the initial trigger for asthma symptoms.
Yet, there is a silver lining. Asthma, while chronic, can be managed. One emerging method that has been gaining traction in health management is acupuncture. This traditional Chinese medicine technique, which involves the insertion of thin needles at strategic points in the body, is now being recognized in the broader medical community for its potential benefits for asthma management. When it comes to veterans, understanding how acupuncture can alleviate asthma symptoms is vital. Not only can it provide immediate relief from flare-ups and breathlessness, but regular sessions can also reduce the frequency and severity of asthma attacks over time.
In essence, while the challenges faced by veterans can sometimes lead to chronic conditions like asthma, solutions like acupuncture stand out as promising allies in their journey to optimal health. As we delve deeper into the world of acupuncture and its potential benefits, it becomes clear that our heroes have a holistic treatment toward enhanced health and wellness.
How Acupuncture for Veterans Targets Asthma Symptoms?
Acupuncture therapy, with roots in Asian medicine, is gaining commendable traction in the modern medical community, particularly among acupuncture providers dedicated to serving veterans. Its comprehensive approach, tapping into traditional medicine intervention, is shedding light on alternative ways to manage health disturbances in veterans.
Specific acupuncture points have been identified to address asthma symptoms. When these points are stimulated, there’s a noted reduction in inflammation and improvement in airflow, ensuring that veterans can breathe more comfortably. Particularly in acupuncture clinics that prioritize veteran care, there’s an emphasis on personalizing treatments based on the diagnostic criteria of each individual’s condition.
Battlefield acupuncture, a unique auricular acupuncture procedure widely practiced in Veterans Affairs Healthcare Administration facilities, has seen increased use among active-duty military personnel. Recognizing the unique stressors and challenges faced by these brave souls, this specific treatment style has been tailored to address both chronic pain, including pain from osteoarthritis, and specific symptoms after combat exposure.
Veterans may also benefit from auricular acupuncture, a specialized technique where needles are inserted into specific points on the ear. Those who have already undergone this method consider acupuncture effective in regulating blood pressure and mitigating disturbances specific to military veterans, like dysphoric mood and stress from all-out war situations.
Many acupuncture-based treatments can be complemented with herbal medicine. This combination often results in a holistic approach to health management, taking into account the disease duration and crafting a suitable treatment period.
The military culture, characterized by discipline and resilience, sometimes poses knowledge gaps in understanding alternative therapies. However, with increasing awareness and access to treatment in specialized centers like the Veterans Community Care Network, these gaps are narrowing.
Benefits of Acupuncture for Veterans: Chronic Pain, Nervous System Regulation + More
Inner Ocean Center for Healing is different than your average healthcare provider and acupuncture clinic: rather than treating symptoms with antidepressants, sleep medications, or pain relievers, we treat the whole person. With our wide acupuncture services, we dig deep to find the roots of the symptoms and bring the system into greater harmony and ease. Various symptoms can seem completely unrelated, but, from a Chinese medical perspective, may have one underlying cause. Treat the cause, and often the symptoms heal on their own.
Yes, the use of acupuncture in veterans is quite effective in treating chronic pain: “According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), a number of studies on acupuncture suggest that acupuncture works particularly well on chronic pain such as back and neck pain; osteoarthritis/knee pain; and headache. It often reduces the incidence and severity of tension headaches and may prevent migraines.”
But, perhaps even more importantly, acupuncture is beneficial in regulating the nervous system: “New evidence demonstrates acupuncture activates specific regions of the brain for the treatment of specific diseases. Investigators from the Acupuncture and Moxibustion Department of Beijing Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine also find that acupuncture regulates neurotransmitters as a mechanism to modulate autonomic nervous system responses.” People often leave my office feeling relaxed, like the charge has drained out of them, giving them more access to positive states and normal physiological functions like digestion and sleep.
How Do Personalized Treatment Plans Work?
At the heart of Inner Ocean Center for Healing is a profound understanding of the importance of individualized care, especially when addressing the complexities faced by veterans. While the core foundation of the center’s approach rests on traditional Chinese medicine, it seamlessly integrates the advancements of contemporary medical practices.
One of the standout features is the inclusion of herbal medicine in their repertoire. Often, the benefits of acupuncture are amplified when combined with the right herbal treatments, giving a more holistic healing experience to veterans. Recognizing the variability in how acupuncture affects individuals, there’s a conscious effort made to understand the diagnostic criteria for each veteran, ensuring that the effect of acupuncture in patients is effective and targets their specific ailments.
The acupuncture treatment frequency varies depending on the individual’s needs. Some may need frequent sessions, while others might see substantial improvements after just a few. These decisions are derived from a blend of traditional medicine intervention practices and modern diagnostic tools.
Another challenge is bridging the knowledge gaps that sometimes exist in the military culture. There’s often a stoic resilience and a tendency to rely on conventional treatment methods. However, the center’s community outreach, backed by certified providers, including skilled acupuncture physicians, seeks to educate and bring awareness to the benefits of such integrative treatment regimens.
For those who may not be open to needle treatments, there’s acupressure therapy — a technique that stimulates the same acupuncture points but without the use of needles. This might appeal to veterans with a fear of needles or those with certain congenital malformations that make traditional acupuncture unsuitable.
A notable aspect of the treatment is the center’s low dropout rates. Veterans, once they experience the benefits, tend to continue the treatments, appreciating the blend of traditional medicine intervention and modern practices. Moreover, to ensure veterans get a comprehensive healing experience, the center often combines acupuncture with behavioral therapy when needed. This additional care can address the mental and emotional scars that combat and service might have left behind.
Collaborations with institutions like the Veterans Community Care Network and affiliations with platforms such as Optum Health further underscore the center’s commitment to providing top-tier integrative medical care to those who’ve served the nation. This dedication, paired with the breadth of treatments available, positions the Inner Ocean Center for Healing as a beacon of hope and healing for veterans.
Can I Use My VA Benefits?
Yes! At Inner Ocean, we have VA-approved healthcare providers. Here is the process for working with us:
- Talk to your VA primary care physician about your symptoms and that you believe Acupuncture can help
- Ask them for a referral to see Mindi Counts, LAc, or John Winternitz, LAc, (both should appear on their list of approved providers)
- The VA will authorize you for treatment + call our office with your authorization number
- Once we have this number, you can make an appointment through our website.
The Journey to Wellness: Acupuncture for Veterans
Inner Ocean Center for Healing recognizes the physical and emotional challenges faced by our military personnel, especially symptoms after combat exposure. Offering acupuncture for veterans, the center bridges knowledge gaps with treatment regimens tailored to each individual’s needs. Through acupuncture, veterans can address both diagnostic criteria linked to combat-related health issues and enjoy a personalized treatment period, ensuring comprehensive care. Every veteran deserves this holistic approach, so dive into the healing benefits and find the wellness you’ve earned. Contact us today to schedule your acupuncture session.
- Boulder County Veterans Services
- University of Colorado Veteran + Military Affairs
- Boulder Veterans Affairs
- VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System
- VA Denver Regional Office
- University of Denver Veterans Services
- Colorado Division of Veterans Affairs
- Institute of Taoist Education + Acupuncture Veterans Clinic