We Can Do Better: Exploring Military Veteran Pain Management Options

15% of the United States military relies on opioids following deployment, compared to 4% of civilians.  Put simply, nearly four times more veterans use opioids than the general population.  This opioid dependence happens because 45% of soldiers and 50% of veterans regularly experience pain.  Veterans are seeking successful healthcare solutions, but unfortunately, conventional treatment often creates even more problems.

Doctors at the Pentagon and VA report opioid painkillers contributing to job loss, family strife, homelessness, and even suicide among veterans.  While these highly addictive drugs effectively treat pain in the short term, they can cause harmful side effects such as insomnia, constipation, bone pain, anxiety, and depression.  In fact, patients often require other types of prescription pills just to counteract the adverse side effects of opioid painkillers.  Ironically, the substances used to help service members are actually causing more harm. 

There is an obvious need to pursue successful pain treatment that does not expose service members to the risk of opioids.  Veterans, disillusioned by prescription side effects and the lack of preventative care, have frequently found solutions in alternative health care.  These holistic options include equine therapy, alpha stimulation, qigong, guided imagery, life coaching, yoga and Pilates, hypnosis, aqua therapy, and Botox.

“I used to take a half a dozen painkillers a day, maybe more, and wash ‘em down with scotch.”  This retired lieutenant colonel with injuries sustained in a combat plane crash eventually found alternative pain relief in acupuncture.

“I didn’t drive for the first two months because I had too many pills in me.  I mean, I was literally, what I consider toxic.” This veteran, concerned about his cocktail of prescription drugs, discovered pain relief without side effects from chiropractic treatments.

“I took fifteen pills a day—a giant sack of nasty freaking opioids, then an opioid patch, then antidepressants and then stool softeners.  Nothing was helping, the pills made me even more of a mess.” This Marine Cpl. had a knee, foot, traumatic brain injury, and a mess of pills.  Finally, he found natural pain relief in alpha stimulation, guided imagery, and equine therapy with horses that reminded him of his home in Texas.

These three specific experiences echo the reality of veterans everywhere, seeking to treat chronic pain, panic attacks, traumatic injuries, and other ailments.

Both the failure of opioids and the success of alternative treatments have led to upcoming research projects on effective and natural approaches for pain management.  The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Defense, and Veterans Affairs have announced an interagency research project exploring non-drug approaches for pain management addressing the needs of service members and veterans.

Ultimately, this type of research will benefit everyone, including military veterans and the general population.  According to Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., The National Institute of Health Director, “Finding solutions for chronic pain is of critical importance, especially for military personnel and veterans who are disproportionately affected.  Bringing the science to bear through these real-world research projects will accelerate our search for pain management strategies for all Americans, especially as we work to address the nation’s opioid crisis.”

As a Veteran owned company, DOCTOR HOY’S™ is proud to be a part of this conversation and to offer a natural solution for pain relief.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *