Did you know that joint and back pain are among the most common medical diagnoses for veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan? The Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons also cites spinal issues as a leading cause of disability for all Army, Navy, Marine, and AirForce veterans.
If not appropriately addressed, back and neck pain can be debilitating and lead to lifelong conditions. Those with chronic spinal conditions are four times more likely to become clinically depressed and more likely to be prescribed opioids.
These brave men and women of our armed forces have been lifting a heavy load to serve our country – both figuratively and literally – and now it’s time to have their backs.
Why are veterans more likely to suffer from these conditions?
Each day, service members lay their bodies on the line for the sake of our country, completing grueling tasks that put stress on their spines. Lifting heavy objects, navigating treacherous terrain, and participating in mandatory exercises (like sit-ups) are all activities that can take a toll on the spine health of our troops.
One such Army veteran and Spinal Champion is Aaron, an infantry officer at Fort Campbell, KY who suddenly began experiencing excruciating back pain and was diagnosed with degenerative disk disease. Aaron suffered from around-the-clock pain for years, even struggling to move his feet, until he took the leap to have a spinal fusion. Now, Aaron is pain-free.
“My pain level went from a constant level of 7-10 to 0! I have no pain at all in my anymore in my back, legs, hip, or feet… I am now able to do all of the things I enjoy with my sons – hunting, hiking, vegetable gardening, and cutting and splitting firewood.”
Aaron’s story, and those of other spinal champions, remind us that healing and hope are possible for our nation’s veterans.
If you are (or know of) a veteran who is suffering from back and neck pain, the National Spine Health Foundation invites you to join private our support group and learn more about prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and most importantly recovery.
We also encourage veterans to share their Spinal Champion story, to encourage and inspire fellow veterans to find healing and hope.