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Advanced Pain Care Salutes Our Veterans

New Research Shows Non-Drug Pain Therapies Attract More Female Than Male Veterans

At the Veterans Health Administration (VA), medical providers increasingly offer ex-soldiers, sailors and other servicemen and women chronic pain relief options that don’t come in a pill or via injection.

Called “complementary and integrative health (CIH) therapies,” popular types include acupuncture, meditation and yoga. Studies show that, among civilians, CIH therapies are increasingly popular because they are proving successful.

Disturbingly but perhaps unsurprisingly, a new study of CIH therapy usage by veterans age 18 to 54 with chronic musculoskeletal pain finds a gender gap. Substantially more women (36 percent) than men (26 percent) use CIH therapies to manage pain. Rates vary according to age and race/ethnicity as well: the percentages for women run from 25 to 42 percent; men’s 15 to 29 percent.

The study’s authors suggest VA clinicians should tailor “CIH therapy engagement efforts to be sensitive to gender, race/ethnicity and age (to) reduce differential CIH use and thereby help to diminish existing health disparities among veterans.”

The same should be true with civilians. For whatever reasons, men should not be averse to considering nonpharmacologic options to potentially addictive medications, such as opioids.

Advanced Pain Care’s Behavioral Health Program can help veterans and nonmilitary patients with a multidisciplinary service that can be used in conjunction with a medical treatment, if appropriate.

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