Star Tribune highlights Northwestern's role in treating veterans' chronic pain

Liala Helal | July 14, 2015

The two-part special report, "A Battle with Pain," relays the shift from prescription painkillers to treating the root causes of pain.

As demand for veterans seeking chiropractic, acupuncture and massage therapy treatments rises in the Twin Cities for those dealing with chronic pain, the Star Tribune released a special report, "A Battle with Pain," about the dilemma of meeting veterans' needs as laws and policies have limited the amount of prescription painkillers available to veterans, and instead have shifted to treat the root causes of pain.

Northwestern Health Sciences University has several initiatives to support veterans in the community and treat their chronic pain. The Star Tribune article highlighted the University’s Feed ‘Em & Treat ‘Em event at the James Ballentine VFW Post 246 in Uptown, which provided free treatments and evaluations. Northwestern Health Clinics were also described as resources for veterans in the community to receive effective and affordable treatment for chronic pain. The University also offers special tuition for veterans interested in studying health sciences or joining our health care academic programs.

The two-part series in the Star Tribune, part one published July 12 titled, "Cut off: Veterans struggle to live with VA's new painkiller policy," and part two published July 13, titled "The new goal at the VA: Treating the root causes of veterans' pain," highlighted Northwestern Health Sciences University’s significant role in treating the root causes of chronic pain in veterans:

“The number of veterans seeking treatment for chronic pain has steadily increased since the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Minneapolis VA, which had one of the highest rates of high-dosage prescription pain medications, has embraced the new directive to reduce painkiller use among its patients. It pioneered a program that emphasized education and alternative therapies like yoga, chiropractic treatment and acupuncture.

Shayne Johnson came to the “Feed ’Em & Treat ’Em” event at the VFW. The post (James Ballentine VFW Post 246), which provided free appetizers and a sit-down dinner, sponsored the event with Northwestern Health Sciences University in Bloomington, which provided free chiropractic evaluations, acupuncture and massage.

Johnson suffers chronic pain as a result of his service in Iraq as a Navy Seabee. He said the chiropractic care he gets from Northwestern and from a private provider he pays out of his pocket have turned out to be better than (other) alternatives.

Air Force veteran John Szuch has no doubt about the value of these alternative approaches. ‘It literally changed my life,’ he said.”

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