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In the News: Chronic Pain and Opioid Use Among Combat Veterans

A new study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine examined the prevalence of chronic pain and opioid use among U.S. soldiers following deployment. The researchers found that of the more than 2,500 participants surveyed, 44 percent had chronic pain and 15 percent regularly used opioids—rates much higher than the general population.

Chronic pain conditions affect a significant number of Americans, and many of them have served or are serving in the military. Chronic pain may result from an underlying disease or health condition, an injury, medical treatment, inflammation, or a problem in the nervous system, or the cause may be unknown. Pain can affect quality of life and productivity, and it may be accompanied by difficulty in moving around, disturbed sleep, anxiety, depression, and other problems. Opioid medications are often prescribed for chronic pain conditions, but use and misuse of opioids resulting in hospitalizations and death has been on the rise.

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