Veteran Facts and Tips to Fight Pain
According to National Institutes of Health (NIH), severe pain is significantly greater in veterans than civilians, especially among veterans who served in recent conflicts.
There are more than 21 million U.S. veterans but many do not seek medical treatment when they fall ill or if pain arises. But for those veterans who do receive care, they often report having pain following injuries in active duty.
The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) says about 50 percent of the veterans that are receiving care in their facilities across the nation have reported suffering from chronic pain.
Chronic pain is often defined as a lasting pain that can progressively worsen or reoccur in flare-ups. Chronic pain is typically associated with arthritis or fibromyalgia; issues with an unusual healing process and other underlying health problems.
Musculoskeletal pain like injuries to bones, muscles, and nerves are the most common conditions in active military personnel and veterans.
It is estimated that 1 in every 10 American adults suffer from chronic pain and often times those individuals are taking opiate painkillers. When an individual takes an opiate for a long period of time, it can lead to more problematic pain, a possible dependency on the prescription and an addiction disorder.
This has caused alarm for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which pulled back on painkiller prescriptions. The VA has shared that veterans were ten times more likely to abuse opioids, and those painkillers were a leading cause of homelessness among veterans.
Tips to Tackle Your Chronic Pain
Focus on your breathing
In addition to being a simple way to practice mindfulness, deep breathing helps relax the nervous system, detoxifies the lymphatic system, and oxygenates the blood.
Deep breathing produces endorphins, which can help lessen pain and make you feel calmer and more in tune with the present.
Try to stretch and do moderate exercise
If you feel you can manage some exercise, a light workout can do wonders to help with chronic pain. As Dr. Pohl wrote in A Day Without Pain, “Although the best pain-relieving power of exercise seems to come from sustained aerobic activity like brisk walking, jogging, or riding an exercise bike for thirty minutes or more, any exercise or activity is better than none.”
Exercise causes the body to produce endorphins, which can help to reduce anxiety and depression. Exercise also increases serotonin levels in the body, which helps to block the brain’s perception of pain. It can also help you sleep better, which can have a positive effect on both your physical and emotional health.
Avoid foods known to cause pain and eat foods that reduce inflammation
Anti-inflammatory foods: broccoli, blueberries, ginger, spinach, and green tea.
Inflammation causing foods: deep-fried food, some dairy products, refined sugar, and alcohol.
Make a gratitude list and prioritize things in your life
Focus on all the good things in your life and decide what’s important and what you want to do.
Accept help from family, friends, and therapists
You don’t have to do this alone.
Find a support group
Let go of your sense of being different and any other fears you may have of other people criticizing you.
About Las Vegas Recovery Center (LVRC)
If you suspect that you or a loved one is worried about chronic pain or painkiller usage, it is advised to contact your primary care physician or seek other professional help.
LVRC has a unique approach to caring for veterans and first responders. Our medical and clinical teams walk our clients step-by-step through addiction treatment with a trauma component, which we know helps with long-term recovery.
We also have a Chronic Pain Program, the goal of the program is to reduce pain and increase function, thus improving quality of life without pain medication.
During our program, we also recommend that our veterans in the Chronic Pain Program receive physical services like yoga, reiki, acupuncture, therapeutic massage, and therapy assessments with a physical therapist, time with a personal trainer, and possible chiropractic treatment.