Minnesota Emergency Room Combats Pain With Acupuncture

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In an effort to reduce the need for pain medication, a Minnesota hospital is beginning a new treatment regime. St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Shakopee started offering acupuncture in its emergency room as a way to avoid the escalating opioid epidemic.

This service is provided for free, with funding provided by the Saints Healthcare Fund. The ER sees upwards of 30,000 patients a year who are all eligible for receiving acupuncture – whether it’s an acute or chronic pain issue.

“Acupuncture is a minimally invasive, completely safe, highly-effective therapeutic option for patients experiencing pain,” said Dr. Jeff Hill, emergency physician at St. Francis Regional Medical Center, in a statement. “And the best part is it’s a treatment without mind-altering chemicals, so our patients can walk out of the hospital, drive home, and go on with their day.”

St. Francis follows in the footsteps of another Minnesotan hospital. Last year, the Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis began treating ER patients experiencing pain with acupuncture – and received great results.

So why this shift towards acupuncture? More and more MDs are beginning to embrace Eastern therapies as a way to offer better patient care; a Chicago MD and a University of Michigan MD both stopped prescribing pills and switched completely to Chinese herbs.

Studies have shown that in addition to their addictive properties and harsh side-effects, opioids may in fact contribute to chronic pain, as opposed to lessening its effects. This leaves acupuncture as a viable alternative for pain management.

Hospitals and medical facilities seeking to lower costs can greatly benefit from introducing needling techniques as acupuncture is also far less expensive than pharmaceuticals.

“Acupuncture is quickly becoming embraced in American medicine because the results from this ancient medicine cannot be ignored,” said Kristianne Schultz, a licensed acupuncturist at St. Francis Regional Medical Center. “What better way to treat pain than through the natural stimulation of the body’s endorphins and innate healing mechanisms.”

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