Combat Experience Associated with Increased Back Pain

Combat Experience Associated with Increased Back Pain

By Staff

It doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but now there are data that show military personnel who deployed with combat experience suffer from back pain more than service members who deployed without combat experience.

The study, published in Spine, came from analysis of 53,933 military personnel from the Millennium Cohort Study – the largest longitudinal study in military history – who did not report back pain at baseline, but did report back pain at follow up.

“Combat deployers had a 38% higher odds of reporting back pain at follow-up and 27% higher odds of repeated back pain, than noncombat deployers,” the authors reported.

Combat experience appears to be the primary risk factor rather than deployment itself, perhaps because of the higher physical demands and psychological load from life-threatening combat situations.  Service support or supply handlers had increased odds of back pain compared with functional support or administrative occupations.

“Our study is the first to prospectively investigate back pain over multiple time points and focuses on deployment (differentiated by combat experience) and occupation as primary predictor variables. Other unique strengths include large sample size and inclusion of all Services and components of the military. Approximately 30% of the Cohort deployed in support of the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001 through 2006, resulting in robust numbers for investigating deployment-related concerns. Finally, self-reported health symptoms, such as back pain, may better frame health issues when there are no validated objective standards for outcome measures or potentially underreported medical visits.

Deployment with combat experiences was found to increase the odds of back pain and repeated back pain in a relatively young U.S. military and veteran population. This study frames the burden of back pain in the military, which may be associated with both reduced physical and mental functioning. Occupational associations identified may aid in targeted efforts to improve overall health and functioning long after leaving military service,” the study concluded.

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Authored by: Staff

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Jean Price

One of the reasons for micro injuries that can lead to bigger, more disabling conditions, is when muscles are starved of blood sugar because eating is sporadic or delayed! I’m sure many in combat situations burn up their previous meal calories quickly, and maybe this is something to study to DECREASE the incidence of back injuries!! Good body mechanic can’t override and prevent these injuries because other muscles kick in to do jobs they weren’t meant to do or the muscles needed don’t have the strength to protect areas because they are weakened from lack of energy/blood sugar…then strains, small tears, and alignment issues happen! So, I’m glad they are recognizing some potential life long issues caused by combat…however, is it just me, or do all the studies lately seem like just verifying common sense…and not even doing that with questions to really pinpoint the issues?! And then not going further to talk about prevention or remedying the problems?! The bill Krissy mentions seems to be about severance pay taxes, and although it’s important…they stated only a 4% chance of having it enacted! Seems like a long shot. Plus severance is one thing, the rest of your life is another! We all know the general health care of our military has become a national disgrace, along with pain care for everyone! Yet the military deficiencies have been happening for decades! So, when will this change and what kind of studies will they do that could actually improve care, instead of just pointing up the obvious?! We need good research on pain care, pain prevention, multi-adjunct therapy approaches for pain relief, and so much more. Yet the money and the incentive to do these seems to be missing. So we end up long on studies which give obvious outcomes…but short on actions and resolutions! So far to go…so many people hurting in the meantime! So few seem to care!


They have proven that a study can prove what they want it to prove! It’s tragic that so many have had to suffer being told that the pain they suffer is all in their heads! Sadly I don’t see much changing because it wouldn’t be good for the job security of the CDC, FDA and others of the government’s alphabet soup of agencies!

Kathy C

Too bad they did not figure this out years ago. The VA and the Media obsessed over opiods has painted all of these Heroes as malingers, and is trying to describe this as a Psychological problem. Most of the so called “Research” that has been done it to find the Psychological cause instead of the Physical. We might not have had so many Soldiers going to War of people knew the true costs. This “Study” makes it appear that they are doing “Research” the Facts pointed out in this “Study” were obvious. Those of us who remember the Soldiers that came back from Vietnam, knew this already. My Father was a Decorated Korean War Vet, who died much to young. His Service Related back injury was the source of years of pain, multiple surgeries, years of in and out of the VA hospital where he was one of the “Lucky” ones. The other Soldiers there would never leave, their minds and bodies broken. This so called “Study” is rather ridiculous, it is as if they had to re-invent the wheel. It took 15 Years of this, to even recognize that the extraordinary Physical and Mental demands of Combat might be a factor for back pain. Don’t forget the VA tried to classify all of these thigns as Mental healeh tissues, so they could ignore them. This includes “Gulf War Syndrome” Which they described as a Personality Disorder so they could deny accountability. Agent Orange, another health disaster that for Political and financial reasons they tried to pretend did not exist. Now they do a “Study” only to learn that the Brave Soldiers they previously Gas-lighted and told had a “Mental Problem”, prescribed a number of useless and dangerous Psychiatric Medications to, and generally lied to have Back Pain. They also failed to correlate whether the mis-classification, over-medicaion with useless “Psych Meds” and lies about Mental Defect had a delterios effect on their future well being, if they had a future. We have information and data now from 15 Years of War. it took this long to observe an obvious correlation. In the meantime they have driven thousands of Veterans to suicide, these “Psychiatric” Issues have no cure. For that matter neither do the spinal and chronic pain issues. The VA and other Interested Parties do not have one “New Cure or treatment.” Even though they forced these soldiers to take useless Psych Meds for Physical Conditions, Medications that were no better than placebo. They lied to a whole new generation of soldiers. By taking the Physical demands out of the equation,and making it appear this was Psychological they could blame these people for their problems and lie to a new generation of Recruits. They did the same thing with Civilians after all the VA sets the trends. If they could do this to soldiers, why not everyone else. There was no outrage, by those people that “Support the troops.” Now we have Law enforcement Inciting violence, by mentioning PTSD.

Krissy Anderson

I can’t imagine the strain on the spines, muscles, tendons, etc. these wonderful people endure. This bill just passed.

Jon Morgan-Parker

I was injured during Military service in UK. Albeit a sports injury where I broke a vertebrae. However, I still carried on with my service, but by God, I am suffering for it now tho’ !
Medicated with an assortment of Painkillers and Morphine to boot !
Now surviving with a War Pension and cannot work !