Vets With Chronic Pain Find Relief At VA’s Pain Schools

news

For veterans dealing with chronic pain, the pain program at a VA medical center in Bedford, Massachusetts, offers an alternative treatment method that doesn’t rely on prescription drugs.


According to WBUR, a National Public Radio news station, the Department of Veterans Affairs has 67 such pain schools that offer five-week, 15-hour courses emphasizing nutrition, sleep, exercise, breathing, visualizations, and stress management as a part of a holistic method for managing chronic pain.

Central to these pain schools is the idea that patients will need help at many stages as they deal with their pain.

“We’re not curing your pain, we are not taking it away, but it’s a way of helping you to manage your pain and live your life and function better,” said psychologist Tu Ngo in the WBUR news report.

One of the program’s goals is to reduce the use of opioids in treating chronic pain. Ngo works at the VA’s pain school in Bedford, which currently has the third lowest opioid-prescribing rate among VA medical facilities in the country.

However, this approach doesn’t work for everyone. About half the students at Bedford’s school drop out before the class ends, reports WBUR.

For those who stick with the program, there is no guarantee that the pain program will end their pain entirely, but it may provide patients with a way to reduce their pain without the risk of side effects from prescription drugs, or a reliance on potentially addictive medication.

Related: The VA’s Attempt To Fight Opioid Dependence Leaves Pain Patients Cut Off »

While research shows that opioids relieve acute pain, the Centers for Disease Control report that there’s little evidence that they ease chronic pain, which is typically defined as pain that continues for three months after the initial injury or ailment.

The pain schools are part of an effort by the VA to change how patients think about and chronic pain.

“Right now, many patients feel like it’s a mechanical model of pain, where if you just take the part out and replace it or suppress the pain in the brain, that takes care of it. But it doesn’t,” said Dr. Rollin Gallagher, the national pain management director for the Veterans Health Administration, reports WBUR.

Associated Press photo by Jim Mone
(U.S. Air Force photo)

An Air Force major drowned in a Caribbean Princess cruise ship pool Friday morning, the Broward Medical Examiner's Office said

Stephen Osakue, 37, worked for the Air Force as a research pharmacist, according to a statement by the Medical Examiner's Office on Monday. Osakue was based at Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi.

Read More Show Less
(Facebook)

A Marine was killed in a crash near Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort on Saturday afternoon.

Lance Cpl. Derrick Thirkill, 21, of Florence, Alabama, was an active-duty Marine stationed in Beaufort, said Beaufort County Coroner Ed Allen.

Read More Show Less
An aerial view of the Pentagon building in Washington, June 15, 2005. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the Guantanamo prison against critics who want it closed by saying U.S. taxpayers have a big financial stake in it and no other facility could replace it at a Pentagon briefing on Tuesday. (Reuters/Jason Reed JIR/CN)

The Pentagon is sending nearly 1,000 more troops to the Middle East as part of an escalating crisis with Iran that defense officials are struggling to explain.

While the U.S. government has publicly blamed Iran for recent attacks on merchant vessels in the Gulf of Oman, not a single U.S. official has provided a shred of proof linking Iran to the explosive devices found on the merchant ships.

At an off-camera briefing on Monday, Navy officials acknowledged that nothing in imagery released by the Pentagon shows Iranian Revolutionary Guards planting limpet mines on ships in the Gulf of Oman.

Read More Show Less
Photo: Lance Cpl. Taylor Cooper

The Marine lieutenant colonel removed from command of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May was ousted over alleged "misconduct" but has not been charged with a crime, Task & Purpose has learned.

Lt. Col. Francisco Zavala, 42, who was removed from his post by the commanding general of 1st Marine Division on May 7, has since been reassigned to the command element of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and a decision on whether he will be charged is "still pending," MEF spokeswoman 1st Lt. Virginia Burger told Task & Purpose last week.

"We are not aware of any ongoing or additional investigations of Lt. Col. Zavala at this time," MEF spokesman 2nd Lt. Brian Tuthill told Task & Purpose on Monday. "The command investigation was closed May 14 and the alleged misconduct concerns Articles 128 and 133 of the UCMJ," Tuthill added, mentioning offenses under military law that deal with assault and conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.

"There is a period of due process afforded the accused and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty," he said.

When asked for an explanation for the delay, MEF officials directed Task & Purpose to contact 1st Marine Division officials, who did not respond before deadline.

The investigation of Zavala, completed on May 3 and released to Task & Purpose in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, showed that he had allegedly acted inappropriately. The report also confirmed some details of his wife's account of alleged domestic violence that Task & Purpose first reported last month.

Read More Show Less
Photo: U.S. Army

A soldier was killed, and another injured, after a Humvee roll-over on Friday in Alaska's Yukon Training Area, the Army announced on Monday.

Read More Show Less