Military Supports Alternative Treatments for Treating Pain in Vets and Troops
The military has long worried that an over-reliance on prescription pain killers for the after-effects of tours of duty was putting both veterans and active-duty troops at risk of dependency, serious adverse reactions to the drugs and accidental death. The problem was found to be greatest among veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan – particularly those with post-traumatic stress disorder – who, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), may have been given “inappropriate prescriptions” for opioids in a misguided attempt to relieve their suffering quickly.
Now, however, change appears to be coming as the military expands its use of alternative treatments such as chiropractic care.
Dr. Robert D. Kerns, the national program director for pain management at the Department of Veterans Affairs, told the New York Times that the study “encourages” both his department, as well as the Pentagon’s health system, “to build on…existing initiatives.”
If done, that would be good news to Congressional committees following up on last year’s Veterans Health Administration scandal.
“We have said for a long time that sending a veteran out of the door with a bagful of pills is not a solution,” Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., said in investigating allegations that a Tomah, Wisconsin, Veterans Affairs hospital was prescribing “excessive dosages of opiates.”
Even as more research pours in, chiropractic care continues to gain support. A 2013 study published in the journal Spine found that 73 percent of participating active-duty military patients with low back pain receiving a combination of chiropractic manipulative treatment and standard medical care rated their global improvement as “pain completely gone,” “much better,” or “moderately better.”
In the same study, only 17 percent who received standard medical care alone said likewise.
Relief for Weekend Warriors Comes From Chiropractic Care, Not a Pill Bottle
Sports injuries can happen to anyone, and they may be more likely among amateur athletes than professionals.
Amateur athletes, whether they are weekend warriors or regular fitness buffs, can end up with an injury for a variety of reasons, from wearing the wrong shoes to an incorrect technique in a tennis or golf swing. However, amateurs and pros alike want relief when they get hurt, and anyone can become addicted to strong, opioid painkillers, according to a recent article in Outside magazine. “The reality is that all athletes are one fall, twist, or tweak away from landing their own opioid prescription,” the article notes.
In the wake of a directive from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to cut down on painkiller prescriptions, doctors and patients are seeking drug-free alternatives, and chiropractic care is one of them.
In fact, chiropractic care can provide not only short-term pain relief but long-term prevention of future pain by helping to address structural imbalances in the body that might be contributing to the problem.
Medications (including ibuprofen and other over-the-counter drugs as well as prescription drugs) can mask the pain from an injury but fail to address the cause. Doctors of chiropractic (DCs) use hands-on techniques to manipulate the joints and soft tissues of the body to address where pain syndromes may originate. DCs receive a minimum of seven years of higher education and are skilled in the diagnosis and art of spinal manipulation.
In addition, according to Dr. Sherry McAllister of the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress, most insurance and health plans cover chiropractic care.
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