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Chiropractic Care Works for Troops with Lower Back Pain, But Not Everyone Can Access It

By |September 19, 2019|Veterans|

Chiropractic Care Works for Troops with Lower Back Pain, But Not Everyone Can Access It

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SOURCE:   Military.com ~ 16 Sep 2019

By Patricia Kime

Military.com


A decade after being asked to study how chiropractic care may increase fitness among troops with lower back pain, the Defense Department has submitted its report to Congress.

The answer? It works.

But service members still shouldn’t expect the treatment to be available at every military health facility.

And as for military family members, retirees and their families, the benefit, along with other alternative therapies, remains uncovered by Tricare.

Earlier this month, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs James Stewart sent a final report to Congress (PDF) on three clinical trials conducted in the last 10 years at military health facilities by Rand Corp., Palmer College of Chiropractic and the Samueli Institute to determine whether chiropractic care can ease lower back pain in troops, help service members stop smoking and increase readiness.


Related:   Does Tricare Cover Chiropractic Care?


The $7.5 million study was ordered under the fiscal 2010 National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law on Oct. 28, 2009. According to the report released Sept. 6, the trials showed some positive results.

The first clinical trial, to determine whether chiropractic care reduced pain and helped troops stop smoking, showed statistically significant improvement for service members with back pain who received chiropractic care alongside regular medical care.

The second trial, to test whether chiropractic care had any effect on the reaction and response times of special operations troops, showed that a single session had an immediate effect on motor response.

But the trials also found that chiropractic care had no real influence on smoking cessation, nor did the acceleration of response time among special operators last after the initial effect.

The third trial — on whether chiropractic care improves fitness among troops with back pain — showed that those who received such care saw a 5% increase in isometric strength, as opposed to a 6% decrease in strength among the control group, made up of service members who also had lower back pain but didn’t receive chiropractic care.

Endurance also increased 14% in the chiropractic group, compared with a 10% decrease in the control group, according to the third trial.

“Based on the results, the investigators concluded that chiropractic care improves key fitness characteristics among active-duty service members with lower back pain and could lead to improved military readiness in such individuals,” the report notes.

While Congress passed a law in 2000 requiring the Defense Department to offer chiropractic care for active-duty personnel and activated Reserve and National Guard members, it is available in only 65 of the DoD’s 54 military hospitals and 377 clinics.

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Use of Non-Pharmacological Pain Treatment Modalities Among Veterans with Chronic Pain

By |May 6, 2019|Spinal Pain, Veterans|

Use of Non-Pharmacological Pain Treatment Modalities Among Veterans with Chronic Pain:

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SOURCE:   J Gen Intern Med. 2018 (May); 33 (Sup 1): 54–60

Sara N. Edmond, Ph.D., William C. Becker, M.D., Mary A. Driscoll, Ph.D., Suzanne E. Decker, Ph.D., Diana M. Higgins, Ph.D., Kristin M. Mattocks, Ph.D., M.P.H., Robert D. Kerns, Ph.D., and Sally G. Haskell, M.D.

Pain Research, Informatics, Multimorbidities, and Education (PRIME) Center/11ACSLG,
VA Connecticut Healthcare System,
950 Campbell Avenue, West Haven, CT, 06516, USA.



BACKGROUND:   Despite strong evidence for the effectiveness of non-pharmacological pain treatment modalities (NPMs), little is known about the prevalence or correlates of NPM use.

OBJECTIVE:   This study examined rates and correlates of NPM use in a sample of veterans who served during recent conflicts.

DESIGN:   We examined rates and demographic and clinical correlates of self-reported NPM use (operationalized as psychological/behavioral therapies, exercise/movement therapies, and manual therapies). We calculated descriptive statistics and examined bivariate associations and multivariable associations using logistic regression.

PARTICIPANTS:   Participants were 460 veterans endorsing pain lasting ≥ 3 months who completed the baseline survey of the Women Veterans Cohort Study (response rate 7.7%.

MAIN MEASURES:   Outcome was self-reported use of NPMs in the past 12 months.

KEY RESULTS:   Veterans were 33.76 years old (SD = 10.72), 56.3% female, and 80.2% White. Regarding NPM use,

22.6%   reported using psychological/behavioral,
50.9%   used exercise/movement and
51.7%   used manual therapies.

Veterans with a college degree (vs. no degree; OR = 2.51, 95% CI = 1.46, 4.30, p = 0.001) or those with worse mental health symptoms (OR = 2.88, 95% CI = 2.11, 3.93, p < 0.001) were more likely to use psychological/behavioral therapies.

Veterans who were female (OR = 0.63, 95% CI = 0.43, 0.93, p = 0.02) or who used non-opioid pain medications (OR = 1.82, 95% CI = 1.146, 2.84, p = 0.009) were more likely to use exercise/movement therapies.

Veterans who were non-White (OR = 0.57, 95% CI = 0.5, 0.94, p = 0.03), with greater educational attainment (OR = 2.11, 95% CI = 1.42, 3.15, p < 0.001), or who used non-opioid pain medication (OR = 1.71, 95% CI = 1.09, 2.68, p = 0.02) were more likely to use manual therapies.

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Complementary and Integrated Health Approaches:
What Do Veterans Use and Want

By |May 3, 2019|Alternative Medicine, Veterans|

Complementary and Integrated Health Approaches: What Do Veterans Use and Want

The Chiro.Org Blog


SOURCE:   J Gen Intern Med. 2019 (Apr 22) [Epub]

Stephanie L. Taylor, PhD, Katherine J. Hoggatt, MPH, and Benjamin Kligler, MD, MPH

Center for the Study of Healthcare Innovation,
Implementation and Policy,
Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare System,
Los Angeles, CA, USA.



OBJECTIVES:   Non-pharmacological treatment options for common conditions such as chronic pain, anxiety, and depression are being given increased consideration in healthcare, especially given the recent emphasis to address the opioid crisis. One set of non-pharmacological treatment options are evidence-based complementary and integrative health (CIH) approaches, such as yoga, acupuncture, and meditation. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the nation’s largest healthcare system, has been at the forefront of implementing CIH approaches, given their patients’ high prevalence of pain, anxiety, and depression. We aimed to conduct the first national survey of veterans’ interest in and use of CIH approaches.

METHODS:   Using a large national convenience sample of veterans who regularly use the VHA, we conducted the first national survey of veterans’ interest in, frequency of and reasons for use of, and satisfaction with 26 CIH approaches (n = 3346, 37% response rate) in July 2017.

RESULTS:   In the past year, 52% used any CIH approach, with 44% using massage therapy, 37% using chiropractic, 34% using mindfulness, 24% using other meditation, and 25% using yoga. For nine CIH approaches, pain and stress reduction/relaxation were the two most frequent reasons veterans gave for using them. Overall, 84% said they were interested in trying/learning more about at least one CIH approach, with about half being interested in six individual CIH approaches (e.g., massage therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, acupressure, reflexology, and progressive relaxation). Veterans appeared to be much more likely to use each CIH approach outside the VHA vs. within the VHA.

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Differences in Pain-related Characteristics Among Younger and Older Veterans Receiving Primary Care

By |July 15, 2018|Veterans|

Differences in Pain-related Characteristics Among Younger and Older Veterans Receiving Primary Care

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SOURCE:   Pain Med. 2002 (Jun);   3 (2):   102–107

M. Carrington Reid, PhD, MD Kimberly T. Crone, PhD John Otis, PhD Robert D. Kerns, PhD

Clinical Epidemiology Unit,
VA Connecticut Healthcare System,
West Haven, Connecticut 06516, USA.



Editorial Comment:

The most disturbing comment in this article was:

Furthermore, the vast majority of respondents reported that the pain causing them the most discomfort had been present for years:   Over 90% of all respondents reported a pain duration of greater than 6 months, suggesting that chronic (as opposed to acute) pain conditions are more concerning to veterans receiving primary care.

OBJECTIVES:   To characterize the nature of pain complaints among younger and older veterans receiving primary care, and to determine whether characteristics of pain vary as a function of age.

METHODS:   Primary care patients at a Veterans Affairs medical center were screened for pain prior to a routine office visit, and those who endorsed a concern about pain were given a self-administered questionnaire that inquired about specific characteristics of their pain including site, duration, frequency, and average intensity of the pain.

RESULTS:   Over a 7–month period, 1,290 patients were screened; 641 (50%) reported a concern about pain, and of these, 516 (82%) completed the pain survey. Among younger (age <65 years, N = 191) and older (age > or =65 years, N = 325) respondents, the mean number of sites causing pain was similar (3.6 vs 3.3). Back pain was the most frequently reported site of pain causing the most discomfort among younger (vs older) respondents (31.9% vs 17.8%), whereas older (vs younger) respondents most often endorsed leg pain (32.3% vs 19.9%). The mean duration of pain was not significantly different between older and younger (10.7 vs 10.1 years) respondents; but older (vs younger) respondents were more likely to report constant pain (63.7% vs 46.9%). Using a 0 to 10 numeric rating scale, pain intensity scores were higher among younger (vs older) respondents (5.3 vs 4.3). Rates of prescription pain medication use were not significantly different (52.4% vs 48.0%). Compensation for pain-related disability was more common among younger (vs older) respondents (40.4% vs 19.4%).

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Characteristics of Veterans Health Administration Chiropractors and Chiropractic Clinics

By |June 10, 2018|Veterans|

Characteristics of Veterans Health Administration Chiropractors and Chiropractic Clinics

The Chiro.Org Blog


SOURCE:   J Rehabil Res Dev. 2009; 46 (8): 997–1002

Anthony J. Lisi, DC; Christine Goertz, DC, PhD; Dana J. Lawrence, DC, MMedEd; Preeti Satyanarayana, MD, MPH

Veterans Health Administration,
Office of Rehabilitation Services,
Washington, DC


Chiropractic services have been delivered on station at select Veterans Health Administration (VHA) medical facilities since late 2004. No published data describing the characteristics of VHA chiropractic physicians (chiropractors) and chiropractic clinics exist at a national level. This study was designed to examine elements of the structures of chiropractic services in VHA settings. Web-based survey methods were used to question all chiropractors in VHA facilities (N = 36). Data were obtained from 33 providers, yielding a 91.6% response rate. Most respondents were full-time VHA employees, while others were part-time employees or contractors. Differences were found in prior training, integrated practice, and academic or research experience. Of the respondents, 88% ranked low back pain as the most common patient complaint seen in practice and 79% ranked cervical pain the second most common complaint. Of the new patient consultations, 67.6% originated from primary care, 9.4% from pain management, and 6.2% from physiatry. Most respondents were similar in their reported use of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, but their reported rates of participation in various facility activities were different. Further work is needed for researchers and policy makers to more fully understand the integration and delivery of chiropractic services in VHA settings.

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Spine-area Pain in Military Personnel

By |May 29, 2018|Veterans|

Spine-area Pain in Military Personnel: A Review of Epidemiology, Etiology, Diagnosis, and Treatment

The Chiro.Org Blog


SOURCE:   Spine J. 2012 (Sep); 12 (9): 833-842

Steven P. Cohen, MD, Rollin M. Gallagher, MD, MPH, Shelton A. Davis, MD, Scott R. Griffith, MD, Eugene J. Carragee, MD

Pain Management Division, Department of Anesthesiology & Critical Care Medicine,
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine,
Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.



BACKGROUND CONTEXT:   non-battle illnesses and injuries are the major causes of unit attrition in modern warfare. Spine-area pain is a common disabling injury in service members associated with a very low return-to-duty (RTD) rate.

PURPOSE:   To provide an overview of the current understanding of epidemiology, possible causes, and relative prognosis of spine-area pain syndromes in military personnel, including a discussion of various treatment options available in theaters of operation.

STUDY DESIGN:   Literature review.

METHODS:   Search focusing on epidemiology, etiology and associative factors, and treatment of spinal pain using electronic databases, textbooks, bibliographic references, and personal accounts.

RESULTS:   Spine-area pain is the most common injury or complaint “in garrison” and appears to increase during training and combat deployments. Approximately three-quarters involve low back pain, followed by cervical and midback pain syndromes. Some predictive factors associated with spine-area pain are similar to those observed in civilian cohorts, such as psychosocial distress, heavy physical activity, and more sedentary lifestyle. Risk factors specific to military personnel include concomitant psychological trauma, g-force exposure in pilots and airmen, extreme shock and vibration exposure, heavy combat load requirements, and falls incurred during airborne, air assault, and urban dismounted ground operations. Effective forward-deployed treatment has been difficult to implement, but newer strategies may improve RTD rates.

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