This article appears in the Spring 2015 edition of Veterans’ Wellness - A Guide to Healthy Living for Veterans in Upstate New York
Back pain - specifically lower back pain - is very common among Veterans and causes significant disability. Given the prevalence of this condition, the Canandaigua VA Medical Center is carrying out three studies to help identify effective treatments.
Results of two of the studies, which involved 380 Veterans from the Greater Rochester area, were recently published in the journals Chiropractic &Manual Therapies and Geriatric Orthopaedic Surgery & Rehabilitation. The third study is expected to be completed in December, according to Paul Dougherty, DC, staff chiropractor and chiropractic residency director at Canandaigua VA Medical Center and Institutional Review Board chair at Syracuse VA Medical Center.
“Our research so far shows that treatments including spinal manipulative therapy and active exercise can relieve lower back pain,” Dougherty says. In spinal manipulative therapy, a chiropractor applies pressure to the spine to promote movement in spinal joints that are not moving well. Active exercise is exercise patients perform on their own at a doctor’s direction.
Another finding is that fear of pain may actually make back pain worse. “It is important that people with lower back pain continue to remain active and engaged in their lives and not let the pain defeat them,” he says. “If you are suffering from lower back pain, talk to your VA provider about what treatment alternatives are best for you.”