WEST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The Department of Veterans Affairs is increasingly embracing non-traditional methods for managing pain – acupuncture.

But, veterans at the VA hospital in West Haven are not getting the traditional way acupuncturists provide treatment.

It’s Thursday — the only day of the week this clinic is open for military veterans looking to manage their pain.

This is the Battlefield Acupuncture Group Clinic for Chronic Pain at the VA Medical Center in West Haven – developed by an air force flight surgeon – explains Dr. Daniel Federman, “Who was trying to employ a new technique to get soldiers either with minor maladies to go into the field or people who were wounded.”

Now — those out of uniform are also benefiting.

Instead of the traditional technique of thin needles inserted into areas of the body, tiny ones are pressed into five specific locations of the ear.

Eventually- they fall out on their own.

Dr. Federman says, “The theory is there’s some connection between the ear, parts of the ear and parts of the brain that experience pain. It’s really just to get the blood flowing. So it doesn’t cure but it decreases the activation of the painful centers.”

Internal studies show it’s effective for short term relief.

“We found that 80% of the people.” says Dr. Federman, “will have a decrease in their pain score immediately after completion of the first treatment.”

Marine veteran, Rick Bakies says, “I can feel it about the third set. Between the 3rd and 4th set. I can feel actual relief. It just takes the pain and drops it.”

The standard acupuncture and medication didn’t work for his knee pain.

“You gotta try- keep trying – until you find something that works. And to use something without medication is the big thing,” says Bakies.

It’s back and joint pain for Air Force veteran Albert Ottaviano.

He says, “As I was getting the needles I was talking to him and I was saying it’s gotten down to about a two.”

Ottaviano comes in every two weeks, “I can get back to exercising – to bring back strength to those muscles.

What matters most to both men is that more veterans take advantage of this novel approach.

For more information – call Nurse Coordinator Lorie Poulin at 203-932-5711 – extension 7153 or 7289.

Can also e-mail – Lorie.Poulin@VA.Gov or Lysette.Gabriel@VA.Gov