It should come as no surprise that servicemen and women are more likely to experience spine-related discomfort. After all, service members routinely put their bodies through strenuous maneuvers, grueling training sessions, and other physically demanding activities. If you or someone you love is an active service member or veteran, here’s what you need to know about treating spinal issues in armed forces service members.
Before focusing on treatment, let’s discuss what actually tends to cause service members to have spine-related issues. First of all, it’s common for military personnel to carry heavy equipment and encounter uneven terrain, which can easily place added stress on the backbone and its supporting parts. Military members may also develop spinal issues stemming from:
• Repetitive tasks and motions
• Injuries that occur during training exercises
• Wounds from bullets or shrapnel that affect vital structures within the spine
The first step in treating armed forces service members is finding out what’s specifically causing any spine-related symptoms that are being experienced. Once symptoms have been discussed and a physical exam has been conducted, appropriate diagnostic and image tests are usually done.
Typically, the next step is to put together a personalized treatment plan based on the service member’s specific spinal problems and treatment goals. The good news is military service members with minor, mild, or moderate symptoms often respond well to conservative (nonsurgical) treatments. For instance, treatment may involve a combination of medication and a physical therapy plan that includes:
• Therapeutic exercises
• Massage therapy
• Stretching routines
Some military patients also benefit from lifestyle changes that may include taking a break from overly strenuous activities and avoiding repetitive movements as much as possible. For an active service member, a spine specialist such as a Los Angeles spine surgeon can provide the documentation that may be required for the service member to be given the amount of time needed to safely recover.
A spine specialist can also offer advice for service members when it comes to getting back to their normal levels of activity. This advice could include recommending forms of exercise that target spine-supporting muscles in a gentler way, such as:
• Stationary bike use
• Water-based exercises
• Yoga, Pilates, and tai chi
• Low-impact workouts
A spine specialist may also recommend treating a back issue with surgery, including alternatives to spinal fusion. Los Angeles veterans and active duty service members can rely on the specialists at The Spine Institute to focus on getting them back to their normal levels of activity as soon as possible. Service members are likely to be acceptable candidates for most common procedures because they tend to be in good physical shape with few underlying health issues. And because many procedures today involve minimally invasive techniques, recovery times are often shorter, which can help military personnel get back to the active, independent lifestyle they often prefer.
If you’re an armed forces service member, you may be naturally inclined to push through the pain or put off seeking care. However, doing so can make spinal issues worse. You’ll be better off in the long run if you get an accurate diagnosis and receive treatment that can reduce your discomfort or eliminate it entirely. The pioneering spinal health experts at The Spine Institute use state-of-the-art technology and innovative methods to help patients find relief from back pain. Call one of our friendly representatives today at 310-828-7757 to schedule a consultation.