MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII —
Marines are getting relief from physical pain and mental stress at no cost, without a prescription or doctor referral.
Their solution is acupuncture from Lt. Cmdr. Brian Kleyensteuber, a Navy psychiatrist embedded with 3rd Marine Regiment.
Kleyensteuber is one of several Navy mental health doctors with the Operational Stress Control and Readiness program. However, he’s the only acupuncturist assigned specifically to treat infantry and artillery Marines at Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
“I don’t do the healing,” he said. “I facilitate the body healing itself.”
He’s able to do that with low pulse electricity and one-time use stainless steel needles, ranging in size from 4 to 7.5 centimeters long.
Using these tools, Kleyensteuber stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system to promote healing. Several of his clients said they don’t sense when he inserts a needle. Marines regularly see him to address a wide range of medical problems, from back pain to post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I was skeptical at first, it sounded goofy,” said Sgt. Kevin Ivey, one of Kleyensteuber’s clients and a rifleman with 3rd Marines. “After the first session, it was very relaxing.”
Ivey, who has battled alcohol abuse and stress, said he was immediately impressed by Kleyensteuber’s openness and sharing of medical knowledge. Since their first meeting last year, Ivey has continued to see Kleyensteuber for more than 16 sessions. Ivey said he feels more relaxed, better at handling stress and has physical relief from his previous back pain.
Kleyensteuber said although some may be unconvinced by acupuncture, he believes it’s a worthwhile procedure to try with other treatments. He said acupuncture is painless, doesn’t require medication and can be used along with other medicines. His patients report few side effects and much less stress and pain.
The desire to treat back pain without medication brought in Sgt. Maj. Paul Davis, the battalion sergeant major for 1st Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment.
“I have a herniated disc in the lower back,” Davis said. “I also felt pain in my (trapezius) muscle from the shoulder neck to shoulder blade. The pain has been going away since I’ve seen him. It went from pretty severe, to no pain at all.”
Sgt. Maj. William Wiseman, a senior enlisted adviser with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, said he’s had back pain since 2008 from his deployment to Iraq. After regular acupuncture treatments with Kleyensteuber, Wiseman said he’s able to do more lifting. His acupuncture sessions mostly now stimulate his mood to help him relax and better focus. He also appreciates how Kleyensteuber is a medical professional concerned about total physical and mental health.
“He’s a psychiatrist and uses it in his treatment,” Wiseman said. “The process is two-fold and he helps patients emotionally and helps them physically. He’s combating two things at once, pretty phenomenal.”
His patients can conveniently make an appointment with Kleyensteuber at his office just several feet away from the 3rd Marine Regiment Headquarters.
“Acupuncture is quick and easy with Dr. K,” Ivey said. “You can talk about things, learn things and get treated. It’s all-inclusive care.”
Kleyensteuber is one of several military medical acupuncturists, with the practice expanding in the Department of Defense. The U.S. Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery issued standardized guidelines last month, describing best practices for acupuncture and other alternative medicine like chiropractic treatments.
With these results, Kleyensteuber thinks the future of medical treatments for the Marine Corps may lie in traditional Chinese medicine and coordinated medical care.