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WAYS VETERANS CAN HELP MANAGE CHRONIC PAIN
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By Jackie Waters
Contact Jackie at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Whether a result of your service or a hereditary health issue, if you’re a veteran who has recently been diagnosed with a chronic pain condition, you might feel pretty hopeless. But even if there’s nothing that can be done surgically for your condition, there are ways to manage it and ease your pain.Chronic pain is more than just a physical ailment. It has psychological, biological, and emotional consequences, especially for those whose pain stems from a service injury. Many people with chronic pain are frustrated and angry about the pain, and can often feel isolated when others don’t understand their suffering. Additionally, veterans whose condition comes from a service wound may have traumatic memories triggered every time they have a flare-up.
If you’ve been prescribed prescription painkillers to manage your pain, you should be ever mindful of the potential for addiction. Opiate addiction is a serious problem, with numbers of addiction cases on the rise in recent years. Never take more opioids than you need, and always use them as directed. Adding addiction to your already painful condition will only make your life more difficult.
Here are some more ways to help manage your pain.
Relaxation techniques: During your military training, you likely learned ways to deal with the stressful and even traumatic experiences that come with serving your country. These strategies can also be helpful in managing physical aches, because relaxation can help you concentrate on the parts of your body that aren’t in pain. You may find quick relief by turning on some soft music and letting your mind drift to a calmer place.
Distraction techniques and visualization: Visual imagery involves thinking of a pleasing or relaxing place or repeating a mantra that eases your mind. Distraction involves focusing on something pleasant, such as a good book or movie you enjoy.
Keep moving: When you’re in pain, moving is often the last thing you want to do. But you shouldn’t allow the pain to take over your life. Exercise can help ease pain by helping your body release endorphins, hormones that ease pain. There is no need to relive your days in bootcamp: instead, try low-impact exercise such as walking, yoga, or stretching.
Try an anti-inflammatory diet: Avoiding processed foods and adding things like olive oil, fruits, and vegetables to your diet can help ease inflammation, which can ease pain. It’s not a cure for inflammation, but it can help some, especially if you’re suffering from arthritis.
Try natural solutions: Don’t put all your hope in natural remedies, but some supplements can help ease pain. Fish oil has anti-inflammatory properties, and most people don’t eat enough oily fish in their daily diets. Turmeric, which is most often found in curry, has been shown in studies to have anti-inflammatory properties, too.
Meditate: Mindfulness is a great way to ease stress. In fact, the VA recommends vets with PTSD practice meditation, and even offers a mindfulness app. Beyond being a wonderful way to relieve stress, a study has shown that meditation has significant effects on pain, anxiety, and depression. Even if it doesn’t help with the pain, it can give you a calmer outlook on life and increase your optimism.
See a nutritionist: Losing weight can help with the stress and pain on your joints. If you’re overweight, a registered dietitian can help you learn effective and safe ways to lose weight. This person can also help you follow the anti-inflammatory diet. Check with your local VA chapter to see if they offer free nutritional services.
Keep in touch with your doctor: Your doctor can help you manage pain the best, and he or she can make sure you’re taking the correct medications to help you feel better. There are new and changing treatments for various ailments and conditions emerging all the time. You never know when a new option will come your way and help you feel better.
Find allies: Sadly, there are many brave servicemen and women who suffer from chronic pain just like you do. Having conversations with them, whether socially or through your local VA, is a great way to trade relief strategies, get recommendations for clinical specialists, or just bond with people who have similar experiences to yours in and outside of the military.
Remember that chronic pain isn’t the end of your happy life. You can still have an active and fulfilling life filled with adventure. Eating well, exercising, managing stress, and making meaningful connections can all go a long way toward helping you feel your best.
Jackie Waters is the creator of HyperTidy.com and mother to four energetic and amazing boys. After losing her mother-in-law, Jackie felt ill-equipped to help her father-in law with both his grief and the practical challenges that arose. Now, Jackie writes articles in her spare time so that others know about the incredible resources available to them and so that they know that they are not alone.
HYPERBARIC OXYGEN THERAPY FOR TBI AND MIGRAINES
Migraines can become a feature of PTSD, TBI or MST almost immediately or can pop up at a later date after the triggering event(s). Doctors have identified over 100 specific types types of migraines. They may come individually or in a variety pak. Currently there are almost no (perhaps none – because we have not found one yet) headache specialists within the VA system. In exceptional cases, the VA will occasionally pay for a referral to a civilian headache specialist. However, these specialists are not likely to be skilled in the specific events that cause Military Related Migraines (MRM). That is: explosions, over-pressure events, or visual and or environmental trauma events. Recently the VA opened up a new experimental program with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.
VA to Provide Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Military.com Week of December 11, 2017
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced it will offer Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) as a treatment option for a small number of Veterans with persistent post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms resistant to standard options. HBOT is a procedure that increases oxygen in the body, under pressure, to encourage healing. This use of HBOT for treatment of PTSD is considered an ‘off-label’ use and will occur under the supervision of a trained physician. The VA Center for Compassionate Innovation (CCI) is also facilitating use of HBOT for a subset of Veterans who have noticed no decrease of symptoms after receiving at least two evidenced-based treatments. For information about VA’s Center for Compassionate Innovation, visit the Center’s website.
For more overviews on all veteran benefits, visit the Military.com Benefits Center.
Levetiracetam Effective as Episodic Migraine Prophylactic
The antiepileptic drug levetiracetam may represent an effective prophylactic treatment option for episodic migraine, according to a systematic review published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics. Insufficient evidence is available to determine the drug’s efficacy as a chronic migraine prophylactic.
Studies reviewed included 2 retrospective chart reviews, 4 randomized controlled trials, and 5 prospective open-label studies examining the safety and efficacy of levetiracetam in patients with chronic or episodic migraine. Only 2 double-blind studies compared levetiracetam treatment with an active antiepileptic drug (valproate sodium) and another 2 compared levetiracetam with placebo. The doses of levetiracetam across the 11 studies (n=441 patients) ranged from 125 mg to 2000 mg/day for a period of 6 to 24 weeks.
An open-label trial of pediatric patients with episodic migraine indicated that levetiracetam treatment resulted in a reduction in mean monthly headache frequency from baseline to 2-month follow-up (6 vs 2 migraines/month, respectively; P <.001). Another study examining the efficacy of the drug in adult patients with episodic migraine also reported reductions in mean headache frequency at months 1, 2, and 3 months from baseline (3.3, 3.6, 2.8, and 8.1 headaches/month, respectively; P <.001).
In a study of elderly patients with episodic migraine, 1000 mg/day levetiracetam treatment led to a reduced monthly migraine frequency at 3 and 6 months compared with baseline levels (baseline: 12.2 migraines/month, 3 months: 4.1 migraines/month, 1.3 migraines/month; P <.0001 for both). Across all studies, 57.9% to 100% of participants experienced ≥50% reduction in headache frequency from baseline to individual study follow-up. In all studies examined, a decrease in the number of headaches per month was found and ranged from a reduction of 2.96 to 10.9 across studies. Somnolence, dizziness, and behavioral issues (eg, irritability, moodiness, hyperactivity, etc) were common transient effects associated with the treatment.