Category: Back Pain, Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: November 11, 2015
Happy Veteran’s Day, and thank you to all the veterans who have served this great country. Being in the service is physically demanding, and even if members finish their service with a clean bill of health, all those day in boots and gear can take a toll on you later in life. Many veterans deal with back pain on a regular basis, but help and resources are available. Today, we’re going to share a few talking points about managing and treating back pain in veterans.
It’s Common, and You’re Not Alone
Army infantryman typically carry anywhere from 40-70 extra pounds of gear when they are on foot patrols, and that adds a lot of stress to your back, hips and knees. In fact, back pain is likely the most common injury that plagues soldiers. According to Eugene Carragee, a physician who edited a study on military injuries published in The Spine Journal, of the soldiers being evacuated from war zones, back pain has been noted in upwards of 60 percent of soldiers. That pain doesn’t just subside on its own once a soldier leaves the field either. It can take months or even years of rehab, physical therapy and strength training exercises before back pain is controlled. So remember, you’re not the only one dealing with back pain.
Back Treatment Options Are Available
Veterans are oftentimes the last people who will ask for help. They are independent and want to handle their issues on their own, and while that’s commendable, it’s not always the best option. Medical technology continues to improve at an incredible rate. Not only are we getting better at diagnosing the root cause of the pain, but we’ve also improved surgical techniques and made them less invasive to provide better outcomes and speed up recovery times. Also, it’s important to remember that most back conditions don’t require surgery, so there’s no reason to shy away from a consultation with a back specialist. Oftentimes the best treatment methods involve anti-inflammatory medications, exercise, physical therapy and strength training exercises. You don’t need to tolerate your pain when there are a variety of treatment options that decrease pain.
Physical and Mental
Service members may return from duty with a variety of scars, but not all of them are physical. Post-traumatic stress disorder affects a lot of veterans as they transition into life back home, and those with physical injuries may be at a greater risk. According to the same study mentioned above on military injuries, 60 percent of veterans who seek care for spine problems once they return home also deal with serious psychological distress. Whether those are from the days in the service or from trying to adjust to post-service life with a back injury, it’s important that you don’t ignore those feelings. Just like a back surgeon can help fix your back after an injury, a psychologist or mental health counselor can help you work through your mental hurdles. As has been the theme of this blog, you’re not alone, and resources are available. If you have questions or want to see what services are available, check out the Minnesota Veteran’s Association website.