Pain is one of the most common reasons Americans consult a physician. Joint and back pain and other musculoskeletal ailments are the most common diagnoses among Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
According to a 2017 report by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 65.6 percent of American Veterans reported having pain in the three months before they were surveyed by NIH, with 9.1 percent classified as having severe pain. Severe pain was 40 percent greater in Veterans than non-Veterans, especially among those who served in recent conflicts.
The consequences of chronic pain include lost work productivity, disability, and increased health care costs. Unrelieved and persistent chronic pain contributes to depression, anxiety, poor sleep patterns, decreased quality of life and substance use disorder. It is also a risk factor for suicide.
VA’s Major Pain Management Accomplishments:
• 2000: Discovered that ion channels—specialized proteins in the membrane of nerve cells—are heavily implicated in the biological mechanisms that generate and sustain neuropathic pain
• 2008: Established the VA Pain Research, Informatics, Multimorbidities, and Education (PRIME) Center to study the interaction between pain and associated chronic conditions and behavioral health factors
o Announced, along with NIH, a five-year, $21.7 million quality-improvement initiative to research nondrug approaches to managing pain and related health conditions
o Implemented the VA Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution Program
Below is a news story that illustrates VA’s commitment to advancing technology and research initiatives to benefit our nation’s Veterans.
Researchers piloting nerve stimulation for amputation pain
Researchers at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond, Virginia, are testing whether nerve stimulation can help Veterans with post-amputation pain. A small pilot study involving 16 Veterans is now underway.
Limb loss is often associated with post-amputation pain that can be challenging to treat and may require the use of opioids, painkilling drugs that can become addictive.
The discomfort could be in the form of acute pain, which is sudden and typically lasts for up to three months post-surgery, or chronic pain, which can persist for six months or more. Read more..