While in recent years there has been more attention to a rise in the number of soldiers returning from combat with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), there remains a wide variety of combat-related medical conditions many Americans are unaware of (as are many veterans, until they suffer from them). National Public Radio (NPR) recently reported soldier’s heavy gear packs are leading to a rise in chronic pain from musculoskeletal conditions.
One veteran in NPR’s story is only 25 years old, but already suffers from degenerative arthritis and bone spurs in his neck, and early retirement from the military will need to result.
Many deployed soldiers and Marines carry 70 to 100 pounds of gear daily, despite a 2001 Army Science Board study which recommended soldiers carry no more than 50 pounds for any length of time.
The Army has begun utilizing unprecedented measures to help prevent and treat soldiers with chronic pain issues. Currently the Army is incorporating yoga, meditation, and acupuncture as alternative treatments for pain management.
Certainly providing options for pain management outside of prescription drugs is a positive thing, but chronic pain is a pretty broad term. Let’s go back a moment to some of the specific conditions mentioned; what is degenerative arthritis?
Degenerative arthritis is another name for osteoarthritis, which is the most common type of arthritis. Degenerative arthritis can develop years after an injury, and increases in frequency as we age (osteoarthritis is often considered a consequence of aging). In degenerative arthritis the cartilage protecting the bone degenerates and bone spurs form (these can be very painful).
Besides age, the biggest risks for osteoarthritis are family history, being overweight, stress on the joints, repetitive use of joints, and joint injury. Soldiers adhering to the military’s weight guidelines aren’t going to be overweight, but the body’s joints can’t tell the difference between extra weight in fat and extra weight from a gear pack (both put pressure and strain on joints).
Unfortunately it can be difficult to prevent the progression of osteoarthritis. Treatment for degenerative arthritis is symptomatic and can include medication, exercise (especially swimming), physical therapy, and acupuncture.
One concern not really discussed in the NPR story are the additional medical conditions which can be caused by osteoarthritis. Degenerative arthritis can cause kyphosis (or “hunchback”), where the spine “bows” or rounds forward and which has its own set of symptoms and related pain.
ActiveForever has an entire part of its website dedicated to arthritis pain relief, daily living aids, and arthritis information. We always enjoy customer feedback and hearing about what products our customers have found to be the most helpful for their arthritis; many of our product pages and information include words from our customers about what they’ve found most helpful and why. Click on these links for more information on arthritis pain relief and ActiveForever’s wide variety of arthritis pain relief products.
Many ActiveForever employees have loved ones who serve and have served in the U.S. military, so we offer a genuine thanks to all veterans and current military for your service. ActiveForever also offers discounts to veterans, so please let the customer service representative know you’re a veteran when your purchase any of our products.