World’s Strangest

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Back Problems in Veterans

Veterans are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injuries. That’s bad enough, but the number of veterans suffering from back injuries is much bigger. VA social worker Carroll McInroe says the strain put on the backs of young soldiers is making them into old men -and women- way before their time.

McInroe started to ask each and every vet who came through his office if they were suffering back pain. Just about all of them had pain, he says. “I would say 70 percent of them. And not just a little. I’m talking chronic stuff here — misaligned vertebrae, bulging discs, herniated discs, the whole list of back problems.” At national conventions, he would share his informal findings with his counterparts at other VA facilities. They told him much the same situation prevailed in their offices. He called around to military hospitals and asked the nurses what their most common complaint might be. Back pain, he was always told.

He saw nothing like that among his cohorts in Vietnam. Since grunts have humped heavy packs since Napoleon’s day with no resulting epidemic of back woes, McInroe believes that modern body armor is to blame. “It’s too heavy. You can’t just put 120 pounds on a 19, 20-year-old musculoskeletal system, 14 hours a day, 365 days a year and not create some real serious problems.”

And in his view, this is a real serious problem indeed. If McInroe’s estimate — that 70 percent of returning veterans have moderate to severe back problems — holds true across the nation, the costs to America’s taxpayers will be enormous, and the bill will do nothing but grow and grow over the next 50 years.

The Houston Press has an extensive article on veterans, their pain, and the problems they have getting treatment. Link -via Digg

(Image credit: Brian Stauffer)

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