Improving veteran pain management requires a committed,… | MOBE

Improving veteran pain management requires a committed, comprehensive approach.

By: Mike Ott, CEO, MOBE and U.S. Air Force Veteran

Published in Fierce Healthcare, November 2022

Millions of veterans encounter health challenges every day, often as a direct result of their service to our country. According to the National Institutes of Health, U.S. veterans experience higher rates of chronic pain compared to nonveterans, and one in ten veterans live with severe chronic pain. As we honor their brave and selfless service, we must also commit to making the health, comfort, and safety of veterans and their family members a priority for our nation.

It is crucial that employers, health plans, and providers consider the veteran population and their unique needs when providing care and support. One of the biggest reasons is due to the complexities and challenges of effective pain management. While pain management is a substantial public health concern, it is an especially serious problem for military service members and veterans, who are twice as likely to die from an opioid overdose than civilian Americans.

In the military service member and veteran population, pain is particularly complex since it frequently coexists with other physical, mental health, and substance use disorders as well as environmental and social risk factors. Additionally, veterans are significantly more likely to report chronic pain compared to nonveterans, so it has become one of the costliest and most complex disorders treated in Veterans Administration (VA) settings.

While we still have significant work to do, a lot of progress has been made to study and address pain management with opioid alternatives. “Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Pain Prevention, Care, Education, and Research” from the National Academy of Medicine and the National Pain Strategy published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services calls for a new, comprehensive approach in the way pain is assessed and managed. This approach recommends patient-centered, evidence-based, and interdisciplinary care that incorporates nonpharmacological approaches to pain management as first-line therapy.

At MOBE, we believe in this approach and have found that our personalized model which pairs people with clinical pharmacists and health guides focused on nutrition, movement, sleep, and emotional health improves self-management behaviors and outcomes—including chronic pain.

Millions of U.S. military veterans are living and coping with pain, and as a result, have been heavily impacted by opioid use disorder and its related harms. As we stop to thank and honor the people who have given us so much, let us also commit our time, attention, and resources to help them heal and recover in a safe, holistic way.