According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately 77 percent of veterans identify pain control as a top priority for their ongoing medical care. Musculoskeletal injuries, including back injuries and arthritis, are the most common causes of pain for veterans. In a VA study, half of recently diagnosed veterans reported moderate to severe pain.
Unfortunately, living with chronic pain often creates other challenges for veterans. For example, veterans with moderate to severe pain are more likely to suffer from mental health conditions, such as depression and PTSD. This reflects what the Pain Free Patriots team observes in the field.
Here is a look at the most common challenges that affect veterans living with chronic pain.
1. Related Health Issues
Chronic pain can cause other health challenges. The Cleveland Clinic identifies several health conditions related to chronic pain. People living with chronic pain may experience limited mobility, lack of energy, and tense muscles as well as depression, anxiety, and anger.
Further, a study of British veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan found that service members who were severely injured in the line of duty often suffered from other health concerns, including post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury.
2. Substance Use Disorder
Substance use disorder (SUD) is the overuse of alcohol, opioids, or other drugs. In our experience, some veterans use alcohol, opioids, and other drugs to self-medicate their pain. Additionally, the VA reports that 27 percent of veterans in their care who have been diagnosed with PTSD also have SUD.
Veterans with SUD may have a difficult time maintaining their mental health, performing at work, and maintaining relationships with loved ones. Further, SUD complicates other health issues, making treatment and recovery difficult.
3. Trouble Sleeping
Sleep issues are common among veterans, and chronic pain is one of the top causes of sleepless nights. Pain can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. And without adequate sleep, everyday tasks, from working to driving, become more and more difficult. Sleep deprivation can also cause irritability, motivation, and memory issues, which can also affect personal relationships.
4. Difficulty Working Full Time
Chronic pain can make it difficult to impossible to work full time. Whether someone is burdened by physical pain throughout the day, managing related health issues, or suffering from SUD as a result of chronic pain, holding down work is a challenge.
5. Strained Relationships with Loved Ones
One of the most common challenges we hear from veterans living with chronic pain is the strain it puts on relationships with loved ones. Pain can cause someone to skip family gatherings or feel unable to help with responsibilities around the house. This can create stress, anxiety, and anger for family and friends. It’s a reminder that treating chronic pain not only heals veterans, it heals families.
If you or someone you know suffers from chronic pain or a related condition, contact Pain Free Patriots at 952-746-3174 for help.