Veteran Ear Acupuncture Pilot Project

Study Purpose

Veterans who have responded well to Battlefield Acupuncture (BFA), a form of auricular acupuncture, in routine clinical practice will be invited to receive education to insert the needles themselves at home. A 3D-printed wearable prosthetic will also be explored as a means to facilitate needle placement. Primary end-points will include whether adverse events occur over a six-month period and whether the aforementioned prosthesis significantly facilitates needle placement in terms of subjective ease of administration.

Recruitment Criteria

Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Healthy volunteers are participants who do not have a disease or condition, or related conditions or symptoms

Study Type

An interventional clinical study is where participants are assigned to receive one or more interventions (or no intervention) so that researchers can evaluate the effects of the interventions on biomedical or health-related outcomes.

An observational clinical study is where participants identified as belonging to study groups are assessed for biomedical or health outcomes.

Searching Both is inclusive of interventional and observational studies.

Eligible Ages 18 Years and Over
Gender All
More Inclusion & Exclusion Criteria

Inclusion Criteria:

  • - Clinical diagnosis of chronic pain from any etiology.
  • - Participant is physically and cognitively able to self-administer auricular acupuncture.
This will be determined by the investigator during the educational sessions.
  • - Participants taking anti-coagulant or anti-platelet medications will be allowed to participate if they acknowledge an increased risk of bleeding.

Exclusion Criteria:

  • - Condition causing ongoing immunocompromised state (e.g. overt AIDS, chemotherapy, anti-rejection medications) - Acquired or congenital defects in the tympanic membrane.
  • - Pregnancy.
  • - Severe cognitive impairment.
  • - Physical disability precluding self-administration of auricular acupuncture.
  • - History of severe vasovagal reaction to acupuncture needling.
  • - History of endocarditis.
  • - History of artificial heart valve.
  • - History of implanted device to support cardiac function.
  • - Participation will be terminated for participants who use the acupuncture needles in any way other than instructed.
Exclusion criteria include those who do not wish to participate and those who have significant contraindications to AA (auricular acupuncture) or indwelling acupuncture. These include: being immunocompromised, congenital or acquired defects in the tympanic membrane, pregnancy, severe cognitive impairment, inability to perform BFA on themselves. Medical anti-coagulation is not an automatic exclusion as many patients on these medications will not have any issues with bleeding with BFA. Those who have history of severe vasovagal/syncopal or other adverse response to skin puncture will also be excluded. Those with artificial heart valves or those with a history of heart valve infection are excluded because of risk of endocarditis. Pregnant patients will be excluded from this study to eliminate the possibility of harm to pregnant patients and developing children. Medical conditions that would exclude someone from using BFA include: 1) those with replacement heart valves; 2) those with history of heart valve infection; 3) those who are pregnant; 4) those who have a pacemaker, defibrillator, or other similar electronic device; 5) those who are afraid of needles, 6) those who are scheduled for an MRI; 7) those with non-medication induced bleeding disorders. Participants will be removed from the study if it is discovered they are using the needles in a manner that is inconsistent with the protocol.

Trial Details

Trial ID:

This trial id was obtained from, a service of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, providing information on publicly and privately supported clinical studies of human participants with locations in all 50 States and in 196 countries.


Phase 1: Studies that emphasize safety and how the drug is metabolized and excreted in humans.

Phase 2: Studies that gather preliminary data on effectiveness (whether the drug works in people who have a certain disease or condition) and additional safety data.

Phase 3: Studies that gather more information about safety and effectiveness by studying different populations and different dosages and by using the drug in combination with other drugs.

Phase 4: Studies occurring after FDA has approved a drug for marketing, efficacy, or optimal use.

Lead Sponsor

The sponsor is the organization or person who oversees the clinical study and is responsible for analyzing the study data.

Chillicothe VA Medical Center
Principal Investigator

The person who is responsible for the scientific and technical direction of the entire clinical study.

Brian L James, MD
Principal Investigator Affiliation Chillicothe VA Medical Center
Agency Class

Category of organization(s) involved as sponsor (and collaborator) supporting the trial.

U.S. Fed
Overall Status Enrolling by invitation
Countries United States

The disease, disorder, syndrome, illness, or injury that is being studied.

Chronic Pain Syndrome, Pain, Fibromyalgia, Low Back Pain, Neuropathic Pain, Neuropathy, Painful, Musculoskeletal Pain, Chronic Pain
Additional Details

30 veterans who have repeatedly had good responses to BFA will be invited to participate. The PI and his collaborators will give standardized education (BFA training) to the veterans in a group session to teach them how to self-administer the BFA. The BFA training will be identical to that used by the VA for providers except that the training will focus on self-administration. The participants will be given needles in a manner similar to a prescription medication (i.e. controlled by the provider). They will self-administer BFA every two weeks for a total of 6 months and record their response in a standardized BFA template. Providers will call participants at intervals of two to four weeks to retrieve this data and assess for any adverse events other than minor bleeding, scratches and dizziness. A plastic, custom-molded prosthesis will be developed during the first several months using 3D-scanning and 3D-printing. This prosthesis will be wearable over the ear and will have holes directly over the relevant acupuncture points to facilitate insertion. At the 3-month mark, participants will be given these. If this turns out to not be feasible with the available resources, work on this will cease for the remainder of the project. At the end of the study, participants will be asked whether the prosthesis made a significant difference in the ease of administration and open-ended comments regarding their experience will also be solicited.

Arms & Interventions


Experimental: Self-administration of Auricular Acupuncture Group

There is only one arm in this pilot project, whose purpose is to determine safety of self-administration of Battlefield Acupuncture over a six month period and how well a prosthesis facilitates needle insertion. Five ASP (Aiguille D'acupuncture semi-permanente) needles will be self-inserted into each participant's ear every two weeks according to the standardized acupuncture points in Battlefield Acupuncture.


Procedure: - Self-administration of auricular acupuncture without prosthesis

Participants will insert semi-permanent acupuncture needles in their ears without the guidance of a prosthesis

Procedure: - Self-administration of auricular acupuncture with prosthesis

The same participants who previous self-administered a standardized auricular acupuncture will be given custom-molded prostheses midway through the study to assess how much the prostheses facilitate insertion.

Contact a Trial Team

If you are interested in learning more about this trial, find the trial site nearest to your location and contact the site coordinator via email or phone. We also strongly recommend that you consult with your healthcare provider about the trials that may interest you and refer to our terms of service below.

Chillicothe VA Medical Center, Chillicothe, Ohio



Chillicothe VA Medical Center

Chillicothe, Ohio, 45601