Veterans with Back Pain Benefit from Chiropractic Care, Studies Show

Nearly half of all veterans suffer from back pain, and many are affected by other musculoskeletal conditions like neck pain and spinal injuries.1 In combat, the impact of a high-velocity artillery round or improvised explosive device can cause a spinal injury in an instant. For many soldiers though, musculoskeletal pain isn't caused by a specific combat injury, it develops with the daily demands of deployment; hours of lugging heavy equipment, walking long distances, and other grueling physical tasks take a toll on soldiers' bodies.

Research from John Hopkins School of Medicine found that musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders are now the number one cause of medical evacuations from Iraq and Afghanistan, not combat injuries.2 After deployment, soldiers are often forced to reintegrate into civilian life even as they struggle with the lingering effects of musculoskeletal pain and posttraumatic stress.

Fortunately, chiropractic care can offer an effective, conservative treatment for veterans with back and neck pain. Numerous studies have shown that chiropractic is beneficial for a number of musculoskeletal conditions, and recent research suggests that it is particularly successful among veterans.

A 2011 study of military personnel with back pain included 171 veterans from the Iraq and Vietnam Wars.3 After receiving chiropractic treatments, over half of veterans experienced clinically significant improvements in symptoms. The average patient had a 37% reduction in pain, along with marked improvements in daily functioning, disability, anxiety, and depression.

Another study showed that chiropractic can create similar results in veterans neck pain.4 Among the 54 patients treated, 67% had clinically significant improvements in pain, disability, cognitive-behavioral symptoms, and more. Chiropractic treatments resulted in a 43% reduction in neck pain for the average patient.

If you're a veteran, remember you don't need to resign yourself to lifetime of enduring pain. A doctor of chiropractic can help you heal from combat-related musculoskeletal pain, and support you in regaining the healthy life you deserve after service.


  1. Kang HK, Mahan CM, Lee KY, Magee CA, Murphy FM. Illnesses among United States veterans of the Gulf War: A population-based survey of 30,000 veterans. Journal of Occupational Environmental Medicine 2000;42(5):491-501. Quoted in Dunn AS, et al (2011).
  2. Cohen SP, Brown C, et al. Diagnoses and factors associated with medical evacuation and return to duty for service members participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom: a prospective cohort study. Lancet 2010; 375 (9711):301-9.
  3. Dunn AS, et al. "Retrospective case series of clinical outcomes associated with chiropractic management for veterans with low back pain." Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development 48 (2011): 927-934.
  4. Dunn AS, Green BN, et al. Chiropractic management for veterans with neck pain: a retrospective study of clinical outcomes. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapies 2011; 34(8): 533-8.