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Back Pain And ComBat–For Mom


Back pain and combat—For mom

Combat experience associated with back pain may seem an odd topic for a post. After all, you maybe thinking, how can back pain compare to mutilated limbs or brains splattered all over the ground. The most decorated U.S. soldier of World War II, Audie Murphy returned home a hero and became an actor, starring in his own story, To Hell and Back. His description of the emotional turmoil, he suffered from post traumatic stress disorder throughout his life, as a result of  his combat experiences still move me.

He recalled a visit to a garden and said he couldn’t even bring himself to touch the flowers for fear that he’d somehow harm them. In comparison to the more traumatic  experiences  of war, you’d be forgiven if you thought that back pain and combat is a small matter—nothing to worry about. However, such thinking ignores the very real problem of brave men and women who on the outside may look fine but suffer from  excruciating back pain and don’t have the support structure of their  civilian  counter parts. This post is my way of making, even in a small way, a difference by exposing a subject that is rarely spoken—back pain and combat experience.

Back Pain And Deployment

According to a study, published in Spine with an analysis of 53,933 military personnel— “ Combat experience appears to be the primary risk factor rather than deployment itself, perhaps because of the higher physical demands and psychological load from life-threatening combat situations.  Service support or supply handlers had increased odds of back pain compared with functional support or administrative occupations.”

Let’s examine the above statement point by point

Combat experience is primary risk rather than deployment. In an earlier post, speaking about the negative effects stress has on the body, I wrote the following: Cortisol, the hormone your body produces when you’re feeling stressed, can take a heavy toll on your physical and mental health. Because of this, giving your mind time to relax and recover is one of the most important self-care routines that you can practice. Your state of mind has the potential to greatly benefit your health, or degrade it, over time.

Unlike their civilian counterparts who may also face highly  stressful situations, soldiers are rarely given the opportunity  to de-stress. Civilians, to illustrate, have access to a whole category of techniques that help people calm the body and release tension.  One such  treatment is Biofeedback. This approach teaches you how to control normally unconscious bodily functions, like blood pressure or your heart rate.  You can  Check the following for pain lasting more than 12 weeks. To summarize the above  point, those in combat experience have no outlet that will constructively allow them to minimize stress and that increases the chances of back pain. A study in  states “ Deployment with combat experiences was found to increase the odds of back pain and repeated back pain in a relatively young U.S. military and veteran population.”

Let’s take the second point: Service handlers had increased odds of back pain compared with functional support or administrative occupations. Years ago I worked as part of a morning crew  that unloader trucks. The repetitious  task of  carrying heavy cartons from the truck to a pallet gave me an aching back, and that was just doing two hours of heavy work. Service handlers in the military  work a lot longer hours performing repetitious  tasks that involve lifting heavy loads. It makes sense than that they would have experience higher incidents of back pain than those working in the office.

Combat and Diet

You might have seen photos  on FaceBook that allegedly  show maggots infested tomatoes and raw chicken as examples of bad food severed to our soldiers. While this is sensational  and outrageous if true, one doesn’t need to look at extreme cases to appreciate the link between diet and back pain as it relates to combat experience. Let’s assume that indeed our soldiers are provided with foods that are safe to eat. This still doesn’t answer the question as to whether they have access to foods that reduce stress and provide enough to replenish and rebuild a body that is perhaps breaking down from the strain of combat. In an earlier post, I made the following observation:

If you are under a lot of stress it’s a good idea to consume foods high in magnesium.

Consumption оf these foods stimulate the production оf а neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Thе production оf GABA helps іn inducing relaxation and sleep. Thіѕ inhibitory transmitter аlѕо has the added benefit of lessening anxiety. Magnesium іѕ аlѕо а muscle relaxant and beneficial fоr soothing frayed nerves. Sоmе оf the foods that аrе rich іn magnesium include spinach, broccoli, lettuce, skimmed yogurt, pumpkin, scallops, oysters, black beans, bananas, avocados, apricots, walnuts and cashews.

It’s easy enough for the average person to get some nerve calming food, maybe not so much for the average solider. This reality is another reason why stress related back pain is still a big problem that the military  brass cannot ignore.


According to the latest report by the National Center For Health Statistics, back pain is a medical condition that has resulted in 85 billion in U.S. costs annually. So most of us are aware  of how back pain effects us, those we love, our friends, and our community. I hope that after reading this post you have become more aware of how back pain affects our soldiers. This post is dedicated to my mom, a back pain sufferer and former nurse. She asked the question, “why doesn’t anyone ever really talk about what soldiers are going through?” Well mom, I hope I did my part. Everyone else, please feel free to leave a comment. I would especially love to hear from you if you , a friend, or family member has experienced back pain related to military service.

like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

6 thoughts on “Back Pain And ComBat–For Mom

  1. Loved the post! Great information and very interesting. God bless you and your mom . Please thank her for her service. Same to you if you served!

    I am an ex army person. So I also have a heart for our service members and their after service care. We know it needs lots of work. I know first hand.

    I moved from Virginia to Michigan recently. Lot better system here!!! But thank you for pointing to an area that is glossed over.

    A bad back is a huge issue for quality of life

    1. Let me first express my happiness for your health and coming back to your family safe. My mother, as I told Katie, hasn’t served. She got her empathy for service men and women as a result of traveling the world and treating men and women suffering from broken bodies and spirit—sometimes as a result of war related injury. Her stories of those brave men and women really touched me and I knew I had to put her concerns in a post.

  2. What an interesting article, thanks for sharing! I love the inspiration from your mom. I am a long-time back pain sufferer and can attest to how it impacts so many areas of life. I can’t even imagine how terribly our combat heroes suffer from back pain, having to put their bodies through so much. One more reason to thank our vets and be grateful to those who are risking their lives and health for us each day!

    1. Hi Katie,

      Thanks for the kind words. My mom didn’t serve. However, she has traveled the world and in her capacity as a skilled nurse saw, comforted, and treated men an d women with serious wounds. She has a lot of empathy for those who she believes risk much but don’t get the help they need.

  3. Hello here. It is an interesting and informative read. It is great that you can offer the help for military personnel.
    They served country when we were safe and without problems living civil lives.
    Back pain can be devastating especially after injuries.
    Your suggestion about magnesium is straight to the point. Magnesium is vital mineral which participates in over 700 enzymes interactions.
    Magnesium oil or magnesium citrate make miracles in the calming, relaxing and soothing way.
    How about specific exercises? I guess that exercises can help immensely too.
    All the best, thanks for great information. Nemira.

    1. Hi Nemira,

      Thanks for your feedback, and your info on magnesium is very helpful. In fact, a few days ago I talked to a friend who informed me that his doctor prescribed magnesium pills to help him sleep better. So you’re right about the calming and relaxing affects of magnesium. As for specific exercises, Yoga is a good way to relieve back pain. You can catch the exercises that I recommend with this link.



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