U.S. veterans experience chronic pain at a much higher rate than the rest of the population—44 percent complain of recurring pain, compared to 26 percent of the general public. Their rate of opioid use is nearly four times as high.
“Many of them are at risk for a lifetime progression of increasing disability unless the quality, variety and accessibility of evidenced-based ‘self-management’ skills are improved,” reports JAMA Internal Medicine. “Without more effective and less costly approaches to pain management, the estimated costs of care and disability to the country will approach $5 trillion.”
Palmer students have the opportunity to fight on the front lines against chronic pain. Through Palmer’s DoD/VA Chiropractic Internship Program, senior-level students get to work alongside chiropractic doctors in either a Department of Defense military treatment facility or a Veterans Affairs medical center, administering chiropractic care to veterans.
It’s a chance for students to give back to members of the military while also fulfilling one of their most important chiropractic school requirements: hands-on experience in the field. Off-campus field training is one of the core requirements of Palmer’s curriculum. From observing procedures to interacting with medical residents to administering chiropractic care, students learn valuable lessons that help catapult them into their careers.
With 14 facilities across 11 different states, a DoD/VA internship gives students insight into how doctors of chiropractic operate. “Chiropractic is low-risk, low-cost, low-invasive treatment—it’s important because patients need access to quality care,” said Palmer graduate and VA Assistant Chief of Staff Michael Pavalock, D.C., M.P.A. Palmer students also gain a unique perspective on the importance of the work they’re doing by helping veterans with:
Chronic pain. To address the high levels of chronic pain and opioid use among veterans, several agencies are collaborating on a $21.7 million research project exploring non-drug treatment options. Spinal manipulation has already been endorsed by the federal Agency for Health Care Policy and Research as the “only safe and effective, drugless form of initial professional treatment for acute low back problems in adults.” In acknowledgement of the technique’s effectiveness at treating pain, the VA has taken steps to integrate chiropractic care into its system.
PTSD. Patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are twice as likely as other patients to have a poor quality of life when experiencing chronic pain. In one study, 80 percent of veterans with back pain also suffered from psychological stress, creating a cycle of emotional trauma. By relieving back pain, chiropractic care can help minimize these PTSD triggers.
Traumatic brain injury. More than 25,000 military service members were diagnosed with traumatic brain injury in 2014. Research has found chiropractic treatments to be beneficial in treating these injuries.
Interested in helping U.S. veterans overcome pain and lead better lives? Learn more about our DoD/VA Chiropractic Internship Program today!