Common Chronic Pain Complaints Among Veterans (And Ways to Relieve Them!)
Did you know that according to the latest census, about 30% of all U.S. veterans suffer from some sort of disability? Among the most common disabilities are hearing loss, mental health issues, and not surprisingly, chronic pain. Chronic pain is a broad term though and there are many ways to treat it. So, let’s break down the most common chronic pain complaints among veterans and ways to treat it at home.
Common veteran pain complaints
Back and neck pain
Neck and back pain is a broad term that affects many veterans across the country. When you’re in the military, neck and back issues can stem from day to day activities such as carrying heavy objects, working long hours in uncomfortable positions, and prolonged running or walking. Many of these conditions not only cause pain, but a limited range of motion making it hard to live life normally.
While the term is vague, the most common back and neck condition is a cervical strain. A cervical strain is just the medical term used for neck pain. Cervical strains typically develop over a period of time, affect the neck, and can often radiate onto the upper back and shoulder area.
Many veterans will tell you that knee pain is just part of the job. But for some veterans, that pain lasts well beyond their years of service. In fact, knee problems are among the top 5 disability claims from veterans after their time in the military. That said, “knee problems” is very vague and refers to several different types of conditions such as:
● Decreased movement
● Muscle weakness
● Joint and muscle pain
● Limited mobility
● Painful motion
Neurological diseases are common amongst veterans including chronic migraines. If you’ve ever suffered from migraines, you know how truly debilitating they can be. It’s important to keep in mind that migraines are not just headaches. They are incredibly severe headaches that are often accompanied with other symptoms such as sensitivity to light, nausea, and vomiting. When you deal with chronic migraines, they can put a hold on your life until you are able to get them under control. While migraines can affect anyone, they are in the top ten most common VA disability claims and are reported to severely affect the ability to work and live a normal life.
The sciatic nerve is the biggest nerve in our bodies. It starts at the lower spine and passes through the buttocks, legs, and ends at the heel and sole of the foot. When this nerve is pinched or compressed, it can result in sciatica. Sciatica causes pain to radiate throughout the lower back and legs. It typically only causes issues in one side of the body and can result in numbness, a burning pain, and muscle weakness. There are different severities of sciatica with the worst one being paralysis of the sciatic nerve. Paralysis of the nerve results in difficulty in movement below the knees and has affected almost 1 million veterans to date.
Ways to treat chronic pain at home
If you are a veteran suffering from chronic pain, it’s important you talk to your doctor and the Department of Veteran Affairs. The VA will be able to help you take your next steps to living as pain-free as possible and can help you get back on your feet. That said, chronic pain is tough to eliminate completely which is where at-home remedies can help.
When you’re in pain, the last thing you may want to do is exercise. But working out is one of the best things you can do for a body in pain. This is for a few reasons: firstly, when you exercise, your body releases endorphins which are known to boost your mood and block pain signals in the body. Second, working out lowers the risk of further pain or injury by strengthening the muscles. Lastly, exercise reduces the risk of other conditions such as heart disease which can lead to other issues. And getting active doesn’t have to mean intense strength building! Start out by walking around your neighborhood, swim at your local pool, or do a yoga flow each day. You’ll be surprised how better you feel once you start moving.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that is well-known for reducing pain levels specifically in the neck/back and for those suffering from sciatica. Although it may be a new concept for some, acupuncture works by relaxing tight muscles through increased blood circulation and released neurotransmitters that reduce pain.
It’s much easier said than done, but it’s important to reduce stress as much as possible to keep your chronic pain in check. This is because stress can reduce your pain tolerance and release chemicals in your brain that puts your body into fight or flight mode. This constant stress on your body can make your chronic pain even worse. If you’re having trouble managing your stress, reach out to a mental health professional who can help you figure out what the cause of your stress is and how to best deal with it.
Get enough sleep
Sleeping with chronic pain can be rough, especially if you are forced to sleep in positions that aren’t comfortable to you. Getting high quality sleep has been proven to reduce chronic pain and even lessen the need for pain medication. If your pain is affecting how you sleep, you can see a sleep coach who can help guide you through what you need to get a high quality night of sleep. You can also try meditation before bed which helps to relax both the body and mind.
Use a pain relief patch
Pain relief patches are an often overlooked solution to pain management. They are easy to apply, provide long-lasting results, and work for a variety of pain types and areas of the body. The SINSINPAS line of pain relief patches are ideal for back, neck, and knee pain. They are made with high quality materials and ingredients to keep you active all day. Whether you have sensitive skin, need to reduce inflammation, exercise often, or just need basic relief, let SINSINPAS help you with their variety of pain relief patches.