Military personnel and veterans typically perform rigorous physical activity with their service. Although the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration provide healthcare to members, some types of health conditions seem to fall through the cracks. A recent research article details the value chiropractic care can provide for this unique patient population. This article will describe some health challenges that confront those in the Armed Forces and possible solutions.
We all have seen television airings of the duties of the women and men in the United States military. Each branch of our Armed Forces requires an initial physically strenuous boot camp and introductory period. We see our service people running through obstacle courses, carrying heavy backpacks while marching or running, and practicing and training for those missions for which they will be engaged. Once they are deployed to active duty strenuous and sometimes dangerous physical measures become a commonplace, every day requirement.
As a practicing chiropractor I have treated many active-duty and veteran men and women for conditions such as neck pain, lower back pain, sciatica and headaches. These patients commonly tell me that their complaints occurred, whether suddenly or cumulatively because of the physical demands of their profession. They note they initially met with the healthcare providers of the military and may have undergone some therapy or taken medications but that their problems persist. One of my patients who was an active duty Army Ranger suffering from significant neck pain and headaches told me that he was advised to carry a family size container of aspirin to treat his problems.
The conditions for which they mostly see me are problems related to the spine. Injuries to the spine occur from every day activities and physical demands that are placed upon our folks in the military. These injuries are not serious or life-threatening such as fractures or dislocations but instead are slight misalignments and improper movement of the individual vertebrae or bones of the spine. These types of conditions cause irritation of the joints and nerves of the spine, pinched nerves and bulges and irritations of the spinal discs.
Chiropractic care has been shown for 122 years to be effective in helping all types of people with non-life-threatening injuries and conditions of the spine.
A research study published October 2017 in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics describes a scientific study noting help for female veterans of the United States military service. Seventy female veterans with a chief complaint of lower back pain received chiropractic treatment. The results showed a marked improvement of the patients back pain.
Although there is some chiropractic care within the military it is limited. Tricare, the insurance plan for military personnel and their families, does not include coverage for chiropractic therapy. There are no chiropractors commissioned in the military as are dentists, medical doctors, physical therapists, etc. Not all armed services bases or Veterans Administration facilities have chiropractic doctors available. Most people of the military who obtain chiropractic services do so with a private practice doctor of chiropractic at their own expense. Knowing this, many chiropractors provide free or discounted services for this deserving group of people.
In time, there will surely be more institutional chiropractic care available to military folks. Until then, personnel of the active military and veterans should know and be aware that the chiropractic profession stands ready to help these unique people with an effective, non-surgical, drug-free alternative type of treatment and care for their injuries and conditions.