Back Pain and Spine Disorders in U.S. Veterans

According to the U.S. Bone and Joint Initiative, musculoskeletal back pain is a major cause of disability for Americans. In fact, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, one in four adults suffers from chronic low back pain. This pain can stem from arthritis or inflammation, a prior spine injury or even a disc disorder.

For our veteran population, spine impairment can be a leading cause of disability. Those in the U.S. military frequently carry and lift heavy loads, jump, or quickly pivot and run in their line of duty. Repeated stress and trauma on these joints contribute to the overall health and well-being of the spine.

Previous studies have demonstrated long-term musculoskeletal disability in military personnel but, fortunately, early intervention can help prevent long-term spine-related debilitation.

The spine care and treatment veterans receive can impact how quickly they are able to get back to work, to play, and to the lives they love. Orthopaedic surgeons and members of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, along with our partners at the North American Spine Foundation (NASF), have created a print public service advertisement to help spread awareness about veteran spine impairment. Members of both organizations frequently treat and care for the backs and spines of our nation’s veterans.

Often, physical therapy and/or medication can successfully treat a spine injury or impairment. Surgery may be considered when nonsurgical treatment options have been unsuccessful for six months to a year. Surgery should only be considered if your doctor can pinpoint the source your pain.

Orthopaedic surgeons are committed to supporting research that will most effectively help treat and, one day, defeat spinal injuries and impairment.

Find out more about the work that NASF is doing to help reduce spine-related disability in the United States by visiting the North American Spine Foundation

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), Adult sample. www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis/nhis_2012_data_release.htm Accessed July 2, 2013.

Last reviewed: February 2016
AAOS does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products, or physicians referenced herein. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific orthopaedic advice or assistance should consult his or her orthopaedic surgeon, or locate one in your area through the AAOS “Find an Orthopaedist” program on this website.

Josh Sandberg

Josh Sandberg is the President and CEO of Ortho Spine Partners and sits on several company and industry related Boards. He also is the Creator and Editor of OrthoSpineNews.

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