A study published in the journal, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, on February 2018 reports neck pain improving with chiropractic care on female veterans being treated in a VA hospital. The study begins by reporting that neck pain is a common problem among active military and veterans.
Contributing factors for neck pain in military personnel can range from trauma related to combat situations to office work, not unlike that seen in civilian populations. Musculoskeletal conditions are the leading health issue in female veterans, with women being more likely to experience neck pain than men.
The study notes the need for a non-drug approach to helping women veterans with pain, especially in light of the growing concern over opioid addiction, and the fact that opioid medications have a greater negative effect on women than men. A recent study showed that since 1999, there has been a 265% increase in overdose deaths in men, while during that same period there has been a 400% increase in overdose deaths among woman.
Currently, VHA patients are being referred to chiropractic services for a variety of musculoskeletal complaints, with neck conditions accounting for 24.3% of all these referrals. This study was conducted by reviewing the records of female veterans between the ages of 18 and 89 who were suffering from neck pain and met the inclusion criteria and follow through for this study. A total of 34 woman met all criteria and completed the questionnaire. These veterans were all suffering with neck pain and were seen by a chiropractor for more than two visits between the years 2009 and 2015.
A numerical rating scale (NRS) was used to rate pain. The NRS is a point system assessment for pain severity with 0 representing no pain and 10 representing the “worst pain imaginable.” The study also used the Neck Bournemouth Questionnaire (NBQ) which not only looks at pain, but also questions the patient as to how the pain affects their daily lives and their mental attitude because of the pain. The NBQ has a total score of between 0 and 70 with 70 being the most severe with the worst effect on the person’s life.
The study showed that after chiropractic care was given to the female veterans, there was a significant improvement as recorded by both the NRS and NBQ scores. The NRS score decreased from 6.3 down to 3.5 on average. The NBQ score also improved, showing a decrease from 37.6 before chiropractic to 23.9 after chiropractic. The study also recorded that there were no significant adverse events or side effects reported for any of the patients in this study group.
In their discussion, the authors noted that regardless of the overall health assessment of the women veterans in this study “…female veterans in the present study receiving chiropractic management for neck pain had demonstrable improvement which was statistically and clinically significant.” They also reported that the results of this study on women showed results that were consistent with prior studies conducted primarily on male veterans.
In their conclusion, the authors wrote, “Female veterans with neck pain included in this study experienced statistically and clinically significant reductions in NRS and NBQ scores over a short course of chiropractic management with a mean of 8.8 treatments. Chiropractic management may be an effective treatment strategy for female veterans with neck pain complaints.”