According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the newest group of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan has the highest rates of chronic pain than any other conflict in U.S. history. Many veterans rely on surgery to kill nerves causing chronic pain, while others are reliant on pain medications and risk addiction to narcotics.
A research team at the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis, in partnership with the Regenstrief Institute and the Indiana University School of Medicine, developed a two-step care program that has helped veterans improve pain-related disability by at least 30 percent.
The first step of the treatment is a 12-week course of medication including acetaminophen, naproxen sodium, opioids, etc. The medication is paired with relaxation techniques such as deep breathing.
The second step of the treatment is another 12-week course consisting of cognitive behavioral therapy designed to treat both pain and depression. Two-hundred forty-one veterans participated in the two-step trial, referred to as Evaluation of Stepped Care for Chronic Pain, or ESCAPE. Nurse care managers administered the relaxation techniques and cognitive behavioral therapy via telephone, allowing veterans living anywhere in the world to receive treatment.
Veterans who received care through the ESCAPE program reported improvement in overall function and a reduction in chronic pain. They also reported less instances where pain interfered with their daily activities, mood, sleep, work, and enjoyment of life. The program also left the ESCAPE veterans with a better understanding of how to manage pain.
Chronic pain is one of the many disabling conditions veterans may develop after their military service. If you have filed a veteran’s disability claim for chronic pain and received a notice of denial of benefits, call Veterans Help Group®: 1-855-855-8992.