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Pain treatment in the field: Good for soldiers' comfort and better for rebuilding troop strength
Date:12/17/2007

neck, 7.1 percent; groin pain, 7.1 percent; leg pain, 7.1 percent; low back pain without leg symptoms, 6.2 percent; arm pain unrelated to a herniated disc, 1.8 percent; and neck pain/headache, 1.8 percent. All of the patients were seen within 72 hours of their initial complaints by anesthesiologists who are pain specialists.

In the first study done in soldiers who were evacuated for treatment, the most common complaints were sciatica, low back pain, leg pain and arm pain. The majority of these cases did not receive definitive treatment until a few weeks after their initial complaints.

Treatments for both sets of patients were similar and included epidural steroid injections, trigger point injections, lumbar interarticular facet blocks, groin blocks, corticosteroid injections, as well as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, neuropathic pain drugs, muscle relaxants and opioids.

Early intervention is almost always associated with better outcomes, says Cohen. The longer a pain complaint goes untreated, the worse the prognosis.

Cohen says it is also more difficult to re-deploy soldiers once they are medically evacuated, for both logistical and psychological reasons. Soldiers who stay with their units build on the strong ties with those units and wish to remain. Those bonds weaken when military personnel are stateside with their families, making theses soldiers even less amenable to returning to the field, he says.


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Contact: Eric Vohr
evohr1@jhmi.edu
410-955-8665
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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