44% Veterans Experience Chronic Pain

Pain in the backA recent study reports that nearly nearly 15% of returning soldiers have used pain killers in the past month–more than 4x higher than use in the general public. Among infantry soldiers who have returned home within the past 3 months, 44% are experiencing chronic pain.   Chronic pain is defined as pain for at least 3 months duration. Researchers are surprised by both the high percentage of soldiers which have chronic pain and also that many of the soldiers using narcotics had mild pain to no pain in the past month. Because of their addictive nature, these drugs are supposed to be prescribed for moderate to severe pain. We know that these soldiers are returning from war, but these number are high. Many returning men and women have experienced things which civilians can only imagine and now asked to return and integrate into society they experience emotional and psychological problems. Trying to mange chronic pain these soldiers are very vulnerable to addiction and problems associated with these medications.PTSD and depression as well as combat injuries is associated with chronic pain. One of the things we can do with returning veterans is asking them how things are going with their reintegration into society, their families and jobs. How are they managing their re-entry? We can do a better job than just writing prescriptions for these dangerous narcotics for our returning veterans. In the U.S., 25% of the US population reports living with chronic pain and 4% use opioid drugs. Sixteen thousand in the US die from opioid overdose per year.

 

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