Chronic pain is increasingly becoming an issue that our troops are facing when they return home. In fact, in some cases these problems can result in early removal from the field. But even in situations where veterans are able to tolerate the pain long enough to finish their tour, the complications and discomfort that arise from chronic pain can increase stress and diminish quality of life once they’ve returned home. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, as many as half of all returning veterans experience chronic pain lasting as long as six months.
Though back pain problems are common in the general population, many civilians are likely to experience back pain as a result of too much sitting or working at a computer. Though there are certainly troops who have desk jobs, those whose assignments involve carrying lots of equipment or wearing heavy protective gear for long periods of time are prone to wear-and-tear injuries. Veterans may also experience back pain as a result of injury, which can complicate the treatment process.
It is especially cruel that returning troops may be more likely to experience many of the common issues that accompany chronic back pain. For anyone experiencing chronic pain, there is the risk of developing feelings of frustration, despair, and depression. This risk can be even greater for veterans, even those returning from non-combat missions. Back pain and back injuries can limit your ability to work. For those who have made serving their country their career, back pain can seriously inhibit successfully performing their duties.
Members of the military have already given so much to our country, so we want them to be able to access medical care, especially for chronic problems like back pain that can have a significant effect on quality of life. Beginning in 1998, the Veterans’ Administration has used a protocol for handling veterans’ pain issues known as the National Pain Management Strategy. However, the lengthy wait times and inefficiencies of the VA system have been well documented. Returning troops are faced with bureaucratic hurdles and frustrating lags, especially for seeing specialists. Though efforts are being made to overhaul the VA, chronic pain can make each day feel like an eternity.
If you are experiencing chronic back pain and are tired of waiting for a referral, there are other options. The Spine Institute Northwest offers a comprehensive array of treatment options, and we make every effort to make sure you don’t need to wait to come see us. To learn more, call us today at 206-496-0630.