Disabling back pain is a commonly reported condition that affects the lives of many veterans, impacting mobility and ability to work after being discharged. In some cases, back pain is the result of a traumatic event, but it can also be a result of long term overuse and daily strain.
It is reported 126.6 million Americans are affected by a painful musculoskeletal condition like back pain. Musculoskeletal disorders of the bones, joints and muscles can be very painful and quite debilitating, affecting daily quality of life, hindering activity and challenging productivity. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, one in four adults suffers from chronic low back pain. This pain can stem from arthritis or inflammation, a prior spine injury or even a disc disorder. Veterans are a unique group of the population who experience back pain following service.
Veterans and back pain
For the veteran population, back and spine pain can be a leading cause of disability that affects quality of life. Military personnel can suffer injuries to the spine as a result of exposure to enemy fire, an IUD explosion, or experiencing a motor vehicle accident. The range of injuries include herniated disks, pinched nerves, or fractures. But not all veterans experience back pain due to a traumatic injury, chronic back pain is also reported by personnel who have served in logistics or administrative roles, and even in an office setting. These injuries typically happen as a result of overuse and repeated strain on the back over long periods of time.
Repeated stress caused by moving heavy machinery or constant physical training can also be stressful on the back causing wear to the disks that separate the vertebral bones, resulting in extreme pain. Conditions such as degenerative disk disease, sciatica, or back pain can be caused by these kinds of continuous stressors over time. Regardless of how it developed, a chronic condition resulting from active duty service can be a real problem for veterans, contributing to lifelong back and spine pain.
Recent studies have demonstrated long-term musculoskeletal disability in military personnel is best prevented by early intervention, potentially heading off long-term spine-related debilitation. When veterans receive spine care and treatment in advance, they are better able to resume normal activities and live the lives they love.
In many cases physical therapy along with medication can successfully treat a spine injury or impairment. Medications and therapeutic treatments combined often relieve pain so that patients can return to activity. Surgery may be considered when nonsurgical treatment options have been unsuccessful for six months to a year and when nonsurgical treatment options have been tried and have failed.
Our orthopaedic specialists offer a wide range of spine injury treatment options providing individualized care using technical expertise such as innovative diagnostic testing, minimally invasive surgical techniques, and targeted therapies at our full-service onsite physical therapy center to improve mobility and quality of life. Dr. Christian Athanassious is the Medical Director of SRO’s Total Spine Health Program is a recognized leader in the field of both non-operative and operative care of spinal conditions, and our providers specialize in tailoring treatment plans to meet the unique needs of our patients.