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Battlefield Acupuncture

Image of acupuncture needles placed on various places on the surface of the ear.
Acupuncture needles placed in the ear

Battlefield Acupuncture (BFA) is an acupuncture protocol where needles are placed in the ear to reduce pain.  The entire body is represented in the ear. So placing small needles in the ear can affect the whole body.

Who should NOT use BFA?

Your healthcare provider will screen you to see if BFA is safe for you.

You should NOT use Battlefield Acupuncture:

  • If you are (or think you might be) pregnant

  • If you are afraid of needles to the point of passing out

  • If you have a bleeding disorder or take certain medicines

What should you expect?

Your healthcare provider will place up to 5 sterile needles in the surface of the ear. You may have some mild pain or soreness where the needles are inserted. In between needle insertions, you will be asked to walk or move and your response to treatment will be noted. The needles will stay in the ear for 3 days, then must be removed. Most patients have immediate pain relief which may last several days.

What you should do after getting BFA?

Relax for 24 hours with no heavy exercise, housework, or yard work. Don’t drink alcohol for 6 hours. You may return to normal activity after 24 hours. You may bathe or shower with the needles in place, but be careful not to pull the needles when cleaning or drying the ears. Take notes of how you feel, sleep, and your pain level.

After 3 days you will either return to your healthcare provider or remove the needles yourself at home. Some needles are attached to tape, while others may have a tape over the needle that you remove first. Grab the needle with your fingernails or with tweezers and rock the needle back and forth. Sometimes the site bleeds when you take the needle out. Be ready with a cotton ball in case there is any blood.

All needles (ASP or Press Tack) must be properly disposed in an FDA-cleared sharps container or a heavy-duty plastic household container. Household containers should have the basic features of an FDA-cleared sharps disposal container. All sharps disposal containers should be:

  • Made of a puncture-resistant material

  • Able to close with a tight-fitting, puncture resistant lid, without sharps being able to come out

  • Upright and stable during use

  • Leak-resistant

  • Properly labeled “sharps, biohazard”

  • Disposed of according to community guidelines

Possible side effects from BFA

Bleeding, bruising, or fainting. Feelings of dizziness, nausea, euphoria drowsiness, or lightheadedness. Symptoms may get worse after your treatment, but this usually stops after 24-48 hours. Be alert for signs of

infection: redness, swelling, warmth, increased pain at the needle site. See your healthcare provider if this occurs. 

Use this table to record any notes following your Battlefield Acupuncture treatment:


Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

On a scale of 1-10, what level is your pain?






On a scale of 1-10, how much has pain interfered with your usual activity?






On a scale of 1-10, how much has pain interfered with your sleep?






On a scale of 1-10, how much has pain interfered with your mood?






On a scale of 1-10, how much has pain interfered with your stress?






Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 8/1/2019
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