AUSTIN (KXAN) — Some local doctors are turning to acupuncture as a way to treat chronic pain. AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine in South Austin has partnered with several Central Texas health providers including People’s Community Clinic to provide that service.

“The whole idea is we treat pain differently than we have in the past. Instead of using drugs, we use a variety of methods, including acupuncture, yoga, mindfulness, looking at nutritional aspects of pain. The program has done very well,” said Dr. Mary Feria, Chief Executive Officer and Acting President of the school.

The patients at People’s Community Clinic receive acupuncture free of charge from AOMA’s students under the care and supervision of professionals.

The pain management program, Feria said, is an evidence-based program now recognized as a best practice at People’s Community Clinic. She said it’s a change from doctors prescribing opioids for chronic pain to considering a more holistic approach.

“The use of acupuncture and other types of methods can help avoid the use of medication, or it can ensure they don’t have to go to the extreme of an opioid. They may need something more mild than that,” Feria said.

AOMA is a regionally accredited School of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, treating close to 18,000 patients a year. Feria says integrated pain management is widely recognized and proven as an alternative to prescription drugs.

“The success is reduced pain or elimination of pain. It’s the patient outcome — that’s the measure,” she said.

Faria said everyone is a candidate and claims scientific studies have proven acupuncture’s efficacy for treating inflammation, pain, depression and a host of other chronic and acute health conditions. Currently, AOMA partners with the Veterans Administration and Seton Community Clinics and hopes to extend the program to other providers as the opioid crisis continues.