Our dedicated U.S. troops endure tremendous physical and mental strain throughout their military careers, which is why chiropractors across the country answer the call to ensure active-duty military and veterans receive much-needed chiropractic care. The Foundation for Chiropractic Progress (F4CP) details this important connection between Chiropractic and the military in their article “How Chiropractic Care Supports the Military.”

The Physical Challenges Facing the Military

The 2022 update from the Army Public Health Center reported a concerning statistic that roughly 50% of military personnel experience one or more injuries annually, which accounts for two million medical encounters provided through military services. In terms of the daily toll taken on the body, soldiers carry heavy rucksacks weighing 70-110 pounds, as well as up to 45 pounds of armor, their weapons and ammo. And they aren’t only carrying those heavy loads, they are also running, squatting, crawling, lifting and suddenly changing direction with all of that excess weight. All this intense activity and weight adds up to increased risk for pain and injury of the spine and extremities. Helmets can also strain the neck and cause irritation to the spine.

These symptoms tend to follow military personnel once they return home. In addition to other issues characteristic to this high-stress environment, such as mental health issues, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse, chronic pain is heavily reported by veterans. Misuse of dangerous opioids is a common problem that occurs in response to chronic pain developed in service. Defense Department research in 2017 reported nearly one in four active-duty service members had at least one prescription for an opioid.

Chiropractic Care Serving Our Troops

Many military hospitals and Veterans Affairs (facilities) have doctors of chiropractic (DCs) on staff, as chiropractic care is often included in the healthcare package of military personnel. There is also lobbying going on to hopefully institute chiropractic services on location for deployed servicemen and women. Studies indicate that initial visits to DCs are linked to substantially decreased early and long-term opioid use. That’s good news, as DCs are addressing complaints of back pain that are a leading cause for the prescription of opioids to military personnel.

Chiropractors offer a natural alternative for pain management for all their patients. The chiropractic adjustments they perform help military personnel and all their patients live with less pain and feel better. Chiropractic adjustments can help alleviate pain in numerous ways, such as:

  • Optimizing movement in the body so that unnecessary stress on tissues is removed.
  • Stabilizing local nerve and/or vascular function for structures potentially impacted, therefore reducing nerve irritation or ischemia.
  • Relaxing the muscles near joints so they will no longer spasm in an attempt to protect the joints, which will allow the muscles to return to their natural position.
  • Decreased inflammation after the stress on the joint is remedied.
  • Endorphin release in the region of care, which acts as the body’s natural pain and stress reliever.

Long-term chiropractic care can have an even more profound positive benefit to patients. Prescribed chiropractic exercises can help strengthen and stabilize muscles and joints. Nutritional or supplemental advice can also address inflammation and other underlying issues.

Consider contacting your state senator in support of chiropractors being commissioned in the military to support your friends and loved ones in the military or that are Veterans. Everyone deserves the right to effective chiropractic care.

References (from original F4CP article) 

  1. https://download.militaryonesource.mil/12038/MOS/Reports/2020-demographics-report.pdf
  2. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/vet.pdf
  3. Army Public Health Center APHC Army Injuries, Causes, Risk Factors, and Prevention Overview. Last Updated: March 14, 2022 https://phc.amedd.army.mil/topics/discond/ptsaip/Pages/Army-Injuries-Causes-Risk-Factors-and-Prevention-Overview.aspx
  4. J Hand Ther Apr-Jun 2008;21(2):143-8; Association between back, neck, and upper extremity musculoskeletal pain and the individual body armor Lisa N Konitzer et al. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18436136
  5. Appl Ergon 2012 Sep;43(5):958-64. doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2012.01.004. Epub 2012 Feb 20. The effect of an optimized helmet fit on neck load and neck pain during military helicopter flights. Marieke H A H Van den Oord et al. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22356840/
  6. Am J Nurs. 2013 Jul;113(7):24-39; quiz 54, 40. Enhancing veteran-centered care: a guide for nurses in non-VA settings. Barbara S. Johnson Et al. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23764699/
  7. https://www.militarytimes.com/pay-benefits/2019/10/14/combat-troops-at-higher-risk-for-opioid-heroin-addiction-study-says/
  8. https://www.militarytimes.com/pay-benefits/2018/12/04/one-in-four-troops-have-an-opioid-prescription-in-a-given-year/
  9. Observational retrospective study of the association of initial healthcare provider for new-onset low back pain with early and long-term opioid use Lewis E Kazis et al. https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/bmjopen/9/9/e028633.full.pdf
  10. Spine J 2011 Jul;11(7):622-32 Real-world practice patterns, health-care utilization, and costs in patients with low back pain: the long road to guideline-concordant care Jasmina I Ivanova et al. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21601533/
  11. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2008 Sep; 36(3): 280–288. Epidemiology of Regular Prescribed Opioid Use: Results from a National, Population-Based Survey Teresa J. Hudson, PharmD et al. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4741098/
  12. J Altern Complement Med. 2018 Jun;24(6):552-556. doi: 10.1089/acm.2017.0131. Epub 2018 Feb 22. Association Between Utilization of Chiropractic Services for Treatment of Low-Back Pain and Use of Prescription Opioids. James M Whedon et al. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29470104/
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4976880/


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