Ear tacks in Auricular Acupuncture

| July 21, 2011 | 1 Comment | 3,208 views

Ear tacks are another modality that is somewhat similar to seeds and pellets. They look like small thumb tacks and come in several sizes: extra small,small, medium, and large. In general, the bigger the tack the stronger the stimulus obtained in the ear. Extra small or small-size tacks seem to be the most comfortable for patients, yet still offer a suitable stimulus. The tacks come affixed to flesh colored tape and can be applied to the ear with tweezers or forceps (Figure 6.7).

Because ear tacks pierce the skin, only retain them in the ear for a limited amount of time so that infection does not occur. The typical retention time is theoretically 3 to 5 days. Because their stimulus is so strong, a few hours to a day may be all that the patient can tolerate. Exposure to water through swimming, bathing, or high humidity levels can increase the risk of infection.Inquire about the patient’s lifestyle (for instance, does he swim frequently, etc.), and adjust the tack retention time accordingly. The ear normally replaces its epithelium about every 5 days, so sometimes the needle may be automatically extruded.

Figure 6.7 Ear tacks

Figure 6.7 Ear tacks

Table 6.2 Home Care for Your Ear Treatment

  Ear acupressure treatments include the placement of pellets, seeds, or tacks on specific points of the ear to prevent or to treat disease or pain. They may be used as an adjunct to regular acupuncture treatments, used to enhance and prolong its effects, or used alone as the primary form of treatment. Ear treatment is an important aspect of healthcare. In order to ensure optimal results, please follow the guidelines detailed below:
       1. Press gently and rhythmically on the ear pellet, seed, or tack 3 to 5 times a day for several seconds. This should produce a mild sensation of heat, distention, heaviness, or soreness. The sensation is a sign that the treatment is working. Do not press for longer than 3 to 5 seconds each time as irritation may develop.
   2. When bathing or swimming, it is important not to get the ear wet. Wrap a towel around your head or use a shower cap that tightly covers the ear. A cotton ball loosely placed in the ear is also helpful when you shower.
   3. All ear therapies should be replaced every 3 to 5 days. This not only ensures the best results, but also protects the ear against infection. It is important that you follow your practitioner’s advice on when to return to the office to have the ear therapy changed.
   4. Important note: If the ear therapy becomes too painful, carefully peel back the tape. The tape will come off along with the seed, pellet, or tac. If the ear therapy comes off accidentally, do not attempt to replace it yourself (unless you are sure where it goes), as you may place it on an incorrect point.
   5. When removing the ear therapy, some bleeding may occur, although this should not happen unless you have been pressing too hard on the point. Be prepared for this by having a cotton ball in your hand as you remove the tac, seed, or pellet. Press the point lightly to absorb the blood, and then dispose of the blood-tinged cotton ball in the garbage. If someone else is removing your therapy, they should wear disposable gloves to guard against infection that can be transmitted through the blood.
   6. The diagram (Figure 6.8) shows the location of your ear therapy. You have _____ seeds, tacks, pellets in your ear.
 If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your practitioner.

Patients should be given a similar instruction sheet (Table 6.2) to educate them about ear therapy, to encourage their compliance with the modality, and ensure their safety.

Figure 6.8 Ear therapy illustrated in the left and right ear

Figure 6.8 Ear therapy illustrated in the left and right ear

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Category: Acupuncture Courses, Auricular Acupuncture

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