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February 2020 Newsletter

Table of Contents – February 2020

We Are Not Lost

The opioid crisis is alive and has affected us all. I live and work in the epicenter of this crisis, and I believe that despite the devastation, we are not lost.

People suffering from chronic pain have been harmed by this crisis. Many who are afflicted with chronic pain have turned to the world of medicine to help lessen their pain. Because we as physicians work to manage chronic disease, we rely on our training to help us manage chronic pain. Unfortunately, the overuse of opioids was the ember that ignited the fire of addiction and the opioid crisis. As a result, many patients suffering with chronic pain are now stigmatized and are afraid their pain concerns will not be considered. Fortunately, we, as medical acupuncturists, know that medical acupuncture is a very powerful tool to combat chronic pain. It is our obligation to share our expertise in chronic pain management with our colleagues and patients alike. We have the training to combat chronic pain in a safe and effective manner. We can fight back against chronic pain. Our chronic pain patients are not lost.

People suffering from addiction have been harmed by this crisis. The development of drug addiction was swift and encompassing. This wave swept through all types of patients and to the extended family. Babies are being born addicted. Children are being taken from their parents. Jobs have been lost. Grandparents are raising their grandchildren. Worst of all, our patients are dying. This wave was swift and powerful, and we were not ready. These patients, too, have turned to the medical community for help. It became clear that a multi-disciplinary team was going to be needed to help our patients plagues by addiction. Many providers of medical acupuncture have stepped up to this challenge and have been working diligently to study needle application, whether it be body or auricular acupuncture, to aid in the treatment of addiction. With help from addiction specialists, medical acupuncturists can fight back against addiction. We can help save and rebuild lives. Our patients suffering from addiction are not lost.

Physicians have been harmed by this crisis. We have been credited with lighting the fire by over-prescribing opioids. While trying to help are patients who were suffering, we have been accused of violating our Hippocratic oath to “do no harm.” Opioids are now a drug of last resort, but many physicians have not been trained in the use of non-pharmacological modalities that are now recommended. Luckily, medical acupuncturists are ahead of the wave in this way. We have been extensively trained in medical acupuncture, which is now a first-line therapy for low back-pain and will likely become mainstream medicine for many other conditions. Now is the time for us to reach out to our colleagues about medical acupuncture through education and mentorship. Now is the time to begin this vital training early in medical school. We can recover from this crisis and be confident that we are providing and teaching the very best care for our patients and for each other. Physicians are not lost.

Although I live and work in the epicenter of the opioid crisis, I see hope every day. I am seeing patients with chronic pain who are adequately treated without the use of opioids. I see those suffering from addiction get the help they need. I see physicians striving to integrate new approaches to care. I will continue to use my skills as a medical acupuncturist to combat this crisis of chronic pain and addiction, and I hope you will too. This is our obligation. Now is the time. We are not lost. 

Kendra Unger, MD, FAAMA
AAMA Board of Directors, Communications Committee Chair

Welcome New AAMA Members

Please join us in welcoming the following new members who became part of the Academy in January 2020:

  • Cheryl Monical, MD, of Willow Spring, NC 
  • Joy C. Durand, MD, of Hermantown, MN 
  • Jeffrey Teraoka, MD, of Palo Alto, CA 
  • Nellie Nadeau, MD, of Palmer, AK 
  • Mark B Rogers, DO, of Blacksburg, VA 
  • Joseph F. Goodman, MD, of Silver Spring, MD 
  • Judith M Magloczki, DO, of Hampton Bays, NY 
  • Lan H. Pham, MD, of Baton Rouge, LA 
  • Audrey Greenfield, MD, of New York, NY 
  • Ilya A. Dubovoy, MD, of Houston, TX 
  • Sandra I. Martinez, MD, of Arecibo, PR 
  • Marilyn D. Short, MD, of Baltimore, MD

If you have peers or colleagues who aren’t currently members of the AAMA, please encourage them to learn more about the benefits of membership by visiting the website or contacting Janice Brown, the membership committee chair.

Legislative Advocacy – Committee Update 

The pace of legislative activity picked up significantly in January and February. Drs. Donna Pittman and Gavin Elliot, committee co-chairs, continued to monitor and respond to bills related to medical acupuncture. Action has been taking on the following items this month: 

  1. KY HB 198: This bill proposes acupuncture services for chronic pain treatments be covered by health benefit plans and the state’s Medicaid program. We requested that these treatments require a referral by the patient’s primary care provider in order to coordinate care and control costs. We also sent information from the 2014 VA Evidence Map showing “evidence of positive effect” in several chronic pain conditions using acupuncture. Email was sent to AAMA members from Kentucky, urging them to contact their representatives.
  2. NY A 2772: This bill requires medical assistance and private health insurers to cover acupuncture, massage, yoga, and chiropractic treatments. A letter was sent in support of this measure. We requested that MDs and DOs who are considered “certified acupuncturists” be named as providers in addition to licensed acupuncturists. Email was sent to AAMA members from New York, urging them to contact their representatives.
  3. NY A 2925: This bill would require mandatory coverage for acupuncture under the Affordable Care Act. We sent a letter of support with the recommendation for referrals from primary care providers in order to coordinate care and control costs. Email was sent to AAMA members from New York, urging them to contact their representatives.
  4. AMA Health Care Professionals Advisory Committee (HCPAC): The AAMA legislative committee has made initial contact to determine how we can participate on this AMA committee. This would allow the AAMA to have input on matters pertaining to complementary and alternative health care and acupuncture specifically, especially with regard to CPT coding and determination of RVUs.
  5. Medicare Survey: The committee contributed to the preamble for the survey of AAMA members regarding Medicare coverage of acupuncture treatments. In view of the recent decision by CMS to cover acupuncture for chronic low back pain and the pending legislation in the House (HR 1183 – Heroes and Seniors Act) for Medicare to cover all acupuncture services, the survey results will provide guidance for the AAMA’s response to such legislative actions.

Legislative tracking and advocacy are ongoing priorities of the AAMA Board of Directors. Please remember: If you become aware of legislative issues/bills being proposed in your state that would affect medical acupuncturists, we encourage you to let us know by email (info@medicalacupuncture.org) or phone (310-379-8261). 

Research Committee Update: MARF Grant Proposals

The Research Committee is pleased to report that several excellent applications were submitted during the pilot application period for the AAMA’s new Medical Acupuncture Research Foundation Grant. We are also pleased to share news that this grant has been dedicated to the memory of Dr. Allen McDaniels, a founding member of the AAMA, who passed away in late 2019. The MARF grant recipient(s) will be announced at the AAMA Annual Symposium in Orlando, FL. We thank the investigators for their hard work and dedication to acupuncture research. 

Education Committee Reminders: AAMA Webinar & Workshop! 

We encourage AAMA members to volunteer for this committee. Contact Montiel Rosenthal, MD if you have questions about joining us.

Weekend Workshop – Save the Date
“Treating Common Musculoskeletal Conditions with Osteopathic Manipulation, Meridian Therapy, Dry Needling and Manual Muscle Testing” will be presented by Jay Sandwiess, DO, and Joseph Audette, MD in Chicago, IL. Save the date: October 24-25, 2020. Find additional information here.

Live Webinar – Register Now
“Forbidden Points and Other Safety Considerations in Acupuncture” will be presented by Montiel Rosenthal, MD, on March 2,2020 at 8-9 PM EST. One hour of AMA PRA Category 1 CME credit will be available for this webinar. Register now! 

IRS Considers Acupuncture a Medical Expense

As reported by the journal Medical Acupuncture, the latest Internal Revenue Service publication 502 includes acupuncture as a medical expense so taxpayers can add it to their calculations of medical expense deductions. 

Deadline Approaching: Become a Fellow of the AAMA

Fellowship in the AAMA represents superior commitment to the practice of medical acupuncture. Election of Fellows occurs each Spring during the annual election of AAMA officers and directors. The application deadline this year is March 27, 2020. To be nominated to Fellow of the Academy, members must submit applications documenting the following: 

  • Possess an MD or DO degree or equivalent.
  • Be licensed to practice as an MD, DO or homeopathic physician in the US or Canada.
  • Be Board Certified by the American Board of Medical Acupuncture.
  • Be a current Full member of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture.
  • Have a minimum of five years of Western medicine practice experience or be Board Certified in his or her medical specialty.
  • Have a minimum of four years of clinical experience in medical acupuncture since completing a basic training program in medical acupuncture.
  • Have published or have accepted for publication an acupuncture related article in a recognized medical periodical ... OR ... Have documented ten hours or more of experience teaching medical professionals on acupuncture related topics. 

Last Chance to Submit Your Work to Be Part of ICMART 2020

AAMA members are invited to submit abstracts of their work for consideration to be part of the 34th ICMART World Medical Acupuncture Congress that will be held June 26-28, 2020 in Athens, Greece. Submission deadline EXTENDED to February 20, 2020. Get details. 

Register Now for the AAMA Annual Symposium

The 32nd Annual AAMA Symposium will be held April 23-26, 2020, at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. Full details and online registration are now available. Save the date and register now. 

Hotel Reminder: Early-bird Discount Ending Soon

The Academy has negotiated a block of rooms at the specially discounted rate of $199/night (Resort fee included). You must make your reservation by March 23, 2020 (or when our block of rooms sells out, whichever comes first) in order to get that discounted rate. Book your hotel room today. We know this meeting will be a popular one for members who might want to extend their time to explore and enjoy Orlando in the spring. Don’t risk losing out on our hotel block! 

Plan Your Travels to Orlando! 

If you’re planning to arrive early or stay on after the AAMA Symposium to explore and enjoy Orlando, the team at Visit Orlando can help. Start your research here: https://www.visitorlando.com

Pre-Symposium Workshops: Reserve Your Spot Today

The optional Pre-Symposium is intended to provide a concentrated learning experience in which faculty spend an entire day focused on a topic in greater depth and with more time for practical examples from clinical experiences. Workshops are scheduled concurrently on Thursday, April 23, 2020 from 8:00 am-5:30 pm. (Continental breakfast and refreshment breaks are provided. Lunch is on your own.) The AAMA designates this live activity (each Pre-Symposium) for a maximum of 7.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits. Learn more and register now! 

  • Workshop I – " Existential Crises, Mood Disorders & The 8 Extras" presented by Yvonne Farrell, DAOM, LAc
  • Workshop II – " Principles and Practice of Auricular Acupuncture" presented by Nader Soliman, MD, FAAMA
  • Workshop III – " Balance System Acupuncture: Single Systems Balancing" presented by Sonia Tan, DAOM, RAc, RTCMP
  • Workshop IV – " Constitutional Facial Acupuncture: The New Protocols" presented by Mary Elizabeth Wakefield, LAc, MS, MM

ICYMI: In Case You Missed It Last Month

CMS/Medicare Will Cover Acupuncture for Low Back Pain
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has announced that it will cover acupuncture for chronic low back pain under specific circumstances. Read the full Decision Memo. 

Call for Papers: Acupuncture and Internal Medicine
Medical Acupuncture is planning a special issue focusing on how acupuncture and auricular medicine can be used as an effective adjunct to treat a variety of internal medicine related conditions. The deadline for manuscript submission is May 1, 2020. 

Recent JAMA and AAFP Coverage of Acupuncture Research
AAFP: Nonpharmacologic Therapies Can Improve Chronic Pain Outcomes
JAMA: Clinical Evidence for Association of Acupuncture and Acupressure With Improved Cancer Pain 

AAMA Decision Reached on Licensed Acupuncturist Membership
In a recent survey of AAMA members, the leadership of the Academy sought a majority opinion about whether or not to open up a membership category to our LAc colleagues. Read more. 

Professional Development Opportunities

AAMA Webinar: Forbidden Points and Other Safety Precautions in Acupuncture
March 2, 2020
8pm EST / 7pm CST / 5pm PST

Medical Acupuncture Review Course
April 21-22, 2020
Orlando, FL

2020 AAMA Annual Symposium
April 23-26, 2020
Orlando, FL

2020 International Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health
April 28-May 1, 2020
Cleveland, OH

ICMART World Medical Acupuncture Congress
June 26-28, 2020
Athens, Greece

KIOM-SAR 2020 International Research Conference
September 10-12, 2020
Seoul, South Korea

AAMA Fall 2020 Weekend Workshop
“Treating Common Musculoskeletal Conditions with Osteopathic Manipulation, Meridian Therapy, Dry Needling and Manual Muscle Testing”
Presented by Jay Sandwiess, DO, and Joseph Audette, MD
Save the date: October 24-25, 2020

AAMA Website: Education Listings
The AAMA maintains an ongoing calendar of educational events and professional development opportunities related to medical acupuncture. The calendar is accessible on the AAMA website. Members are encouraged to share events and calendar items from their regions and about educational topics that may be of wider interest among peers and fellow AAMA members. 

Medical Acupuncture Journal Updates

Fast-Track Articles, Ahead of Print: https://www.liebertpub.com/toc/acu/0/0

Most Recent Issue: February 2020 

New CME Article: Electroacupuncture to Increase Neuronal Stem Cell Growth

New Scientific Research

Preventing the induction of acid saline-induced fibromyalgia pain in mice by electroacupuncture or APETx2 injection
[Acupuncture in Medicine]
"Our data reveal that both EA and ASIC3 blockade significantly reduce FM pain in mice via the ASIC3, Nav1.7 and Nav1.8 signaling pathways. Moreover, our findings support the potential clinical use of EA for the treatment of FM pain."

Application of Acupuncture to Attenuate Immune Responses and Oxidative Stress in Postoperative Cognitive Dysfunction: What Do We Know So Far?
[Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity]
“Based on the studies included in this review, we believe that acupuncture has the potential to be used as a complementary therapy to reduce the incidence of POCD.”

Integrative East–West Medicine Intervention for Chronic Daily Headache: A Case Report and Care Perspective
[Global Advances in Health and Medicine]
A narrative review of the literature is presented to demonstrate an evidence-informed rationale for incorporating nonpharmacologic approaches to effectively help reduce the symptom burden of this patient population.

Efficacy of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Elderly Patients with Hypertension in Home Health Care: A Randomized Controlled Trial
[The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine]
This study suggested that in the home health care hypertension population, antihypertensive drugs plus acupuncture may be more beneficial in lowering BP and in regulating autonomic nervous system activity than drugs alone.

October 2020 Workshop

Treating Common Musculoskeletal Conditions with Osteopathic Manipulation, Meridian Therapy, Dry Needling and Manual Muscle Testing Weekend Workshop

Presented By:  Jay Sandweiss, DO, FAAMA and Joseph Audette, MD, MA

October 24-25, 2020
Chicago, IL


Scientific Research

Read more evidence-based research on acupuncture and its applications in medical practice.

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