People sometimes talk about veterans’ sacrifice of service as if it’s something that’s in the past. They’ve made their sacrifice, and now they’ve returned to normal life. But the truth is that military service often comes with a lifetime of sacrifice, including sacrifices that last for a lifetime.
That seems to be the case for chronic pain. Veterans endure significantly more chronic pain than the nonveteran population. That’s according to a new study conducted by the National Institute for Health.
A Large Population Survey
The data for this study comes from analysis of the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), which asked health questions to over 65,000 Americans from 2010 to 2014.
Researchers estimate that about 65.5% of US veterans experienced pain in the last month, compared to about 56.4% for nonveterans. The disparity was even greater for severe pain, with 9.1% of veterans reporting severe pain in the last three months, compared to just 6.3% of nonveterans.
The disparity was greatest for younger veterans. While 7.8% of veterans age18-39 reported severe pain in the last three months, only 3.2% of nonveterans in this age group reported similar pain. For nonveterans, the prevalence of severe pain increased steadily with age. But for veterans, the rate of severe pain peaked in the 50-59 age group. In the 70 and over age group, veterans were actually less likely than nonveterans to report severe pain (7.1% vs. 9.6%).
With chronic pain treatment a major focus of contemporary health policy, this study shows that it needs to be even more of a priority for the Veterans Administration. The VA system should work even harder to develop chronic pain care models that avoid heavy reliance on drugs.
Do Veterans Experience More TMJ?
In this survey, it seemed that jaw pain was one of the few types of pain that veterans didn’t experience as much as nonveterans, since only 3.6% experienced the condition. However, many of the veterans that did experience jaw pain experienced severe pain (37.5%).
Another study showed that veterans with PTSD were more likely to experience TMJ symptoms than people in other groups, including those who had PTSD for other reasons. In particular, they were more likely to have jaw pain, clicking noises when biting and chewing, and limited mouth opening. One of the probable causes of increased TMJ risk is probably the increased incidence of jaw trauma.
At the River Edge Dental Center for TMJ, Sleep Apnea, & Reconstructive Dentistry, we are dedicated to drug-free TMJ treatment for all our patients. We invite veterans and other patients to please call 201-546-8512 today for an appointment with TMJ dentist Dr. Marlen Martirossian.