Pain (often classified as musculoskeletal pain) is one of the most common reasons for medical discharge from the armed forces. It is the number one reason for discharge from the British Armed Forces, while in the US a survey of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan found that almost 57 per cent now have compromised musculoskeletal systems.
A significant number of veterans live with pain from injuries caused by improvised explosive devices and weapons that inflict severe impacts on heads, necks, spines and limbs. Pain is also common in veterans who have experienced several injuries, and it is often accompanied by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The stereotype of the strong soldier who can live through any challenge without complaining or seeking help can create a barrier to finding support for pain and associated mental health issues.
Learning about multidisciplinary pain management and self-management is a good starting point.
The Pain Directory can also be useful to find a pain service or specialist based on location.
Help & Resources
Pain clinics & programs
- National Pain Services Directory: Current list of pain clinics in Australia
- Pain programs: Current list of pain programs in Australia
- Seniors ADAPT program: Pain management education program for over 65s
Websites & reading
- Coordinated Veterans’ Care Program (Department of Veterans’ Affairs)
- Veterans' MATES: Fact sheets from the Veterans’ Medicines Advice and Therapeutics Education Services on a range of chronic pain and other conditions
- Mates 4 Mates firstname.lastname@example.org
- National Centre for Veterans' Healthcare Concord SLHD-NCVHconcord@health.nsw.gov.au
- Soldier on Australia email@example.com
- An Ongoing War: Story about chronic pain from war injuries (Good Weekend September 2013)