Salute: Chiropractic Integrated Care Pathway for Low Back Pain in Veterans

In the making for a few years, a study surfaced in 2018 that not only addressed chiropractic care’s role in treating low back pain through integrative care, but also used a population we hold close to our hearts—our country’s Veterans—to measure success.

This isn’t a first. Back in 2002, then-President George W. Bush signed into law the right to free chiropractic care for eligible Veterans. Since then, it’s been made more accessible by adding it to the roster of VA centers and helping ensure Veterans are aware it’s available via referral to a private practice if it’s not included in their VA center’s services.

But “Chiropractic Integrated Care Pathway for Low Back Pain in Veterans: Results of a Delphi Consensus Process,” published this year in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, brought it back to the forefront. The timing is perfect, as even in the general population, according to the latest Gallup-Palmer College of Chiropractic study, a lack of awareness keeps many from taking advantage of this viable drug- and surgery-free option for relieving chronic pain.

This is why the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress (F4CP) is dedicated to active military and Veterans and chiropractic care. While retired Army Staff Sgt. Shilo Harris is very vocal about how chiropractic care saved his life, giving him the support he needed to beat his addiction to prescribed opioid painkillers, other statistics show there is still a lot of work to be done. Veterans are 40 percent more likely to experience chronic pain and twice as likely to die from an opioid overdose.

So, what more can we do?

  • Data compiled by the Veterans Administration (VA) says diseases of the musculoskeletal system are the chief problem for troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. When you add to the stressors of military service carrying heavy backpacks and weapons over many miles a day on less-than-even terrain, you have a recipe for disaster. Veterans from previous conflicts confirm this is not unique to our current confrontations.
  • As Harris discovered, prescription painkillers were the go-to solution until the opioid epidemic claimed more casualties than our Veterans faced in battle. The latest round of studies, including the Delphi results, find the best outcome calls on a multi-disciplinary approach that treats mind, body, and soul. Working together, coordinating holistic treatments and monitoring prescriptions, begins with the drug- and surgery-free options that in time make the more addictive pharmaceuticals unnecessary.
  • The success of programs like the VA’s Opioid Safety Initiative (OSI), reflected in the Delphi study, give back to the general population as well. The program led to a 45 percent reduction in opioid use from 2012 to 2018, which caused others to take notice, looking for ways to incorporate some of those same methods in their efforts. And word of mouth throughout the ranks goes a long way in encouraging fellow veterans to give chiropractic care a try.

At F4CP, we salute our armed forces for the sacrifices they’ve made in serving our country and vow to do whatever we can to raise awareness of chiropractic care and its many benefits. If there is a Veteran in your life who might benefit from chiropractic care, encourage them to find out what is available to them.

They deserve nothing less!

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