Nearly 4 million veterans who have served since 2001 have a service-related disability. Back pain is one of the most common conditions veterans experience, but there are secondary conditions that can arise from this issue.
Understanding these can help you leverage your VA benefits and get the appropriate treatment. Let’s explore nine of the most common VA secondary conditions to back pain.
This is a common condition that results from service-related back pain. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most serious.
Radiculopathy occurs when nerves in the lower back are irritated or compressed. Pain is the primary symptom, and it could happen in the lower back or legs. This sensation is often described as “sharp” or “shooting.”
This occurs since radiculopathy often affects the sciatic nerve. In extreme cases, this condition can affect multiple nerves and cause intense pain. The pain could be bad enough to impair one’s ability to function.
2. Hip Pain
Hip pain and back pain are often connected. There is a large network of ligaments, bones, and muscles that attach to the hip and spine.
Back pain inhibits mobility, which can cause your body to compensate by using the hips in unintended ways. Over time, this can place undue stress on this area and lead to pain.
Left unchecked, hip pain can then cause additional back pain. These issues combined can significantly decrease one’s quality of life. They could even affect someone’s ability to obtain and keep a job.
Myelopathy is one of the most serious secondary conditions that can arise. As previously mentioned, radiculopathy places pressure on the nerve roots. In contrast, myelopathy puts pressure on the spine itself.
It can affect the thoracic spine, cervical spine, and lumbar spine. These are the middle back, upper back, and lower back respectively.
Managing this condition usually requires surgery. Common symptoms include constant, radiating pain and increased reflexes.
If you suspect you have myelopathy, get in touch with a professional immediately. This issue tends to spiral out of control without treatment.
4. Urinary Frequency/Incontinence
These conditions usually start slowly, and they might develop months before you notice them. Over time, they worsen until they become obvious.
Some situations require veterans to wear absorbent material. Urinary frequency and incontinence caused by back pain likely won’t resolve on their own.
You’ll need to address the cause of your back pain before you can fix these issues. It’s recommended to take action as soon as possible, as they can make it difficult to live normally.
Arthritis occurs when the cartilage between your joints erodes. This leads to limited mobility, stiffness, and pain.
Arthritis present in the back involves the breakdown of the discs and joints in this area. Spinal arthritis can make it difficult to perform basic actions like standing or walking.
The pain from this secondary condition might also affect your sleep schedule. At the very least, it can make it impossible to engage in athletic activity without pain.
Veterans who enjoy playing sports, lifting weights, etc. might not be able to do so once spinal arthritis develops. Medication can alleviate arthritis symptoms, but it can’t cure the condition.
It’s not uncommon for veterans to experience depression due to their back conditions. After all, it can be difficult to cope with being unable to live how you used to.
Symptoms of depression include a feeling of worthlessness, hopelessness, and overwhelming sadness. You might have a lack of motivation for activities you normally enjoy. You could also have difficulty concentrating, sleeping, and eating.
Depression is something you should never overlook. If you experience the above issues, speak with someone about your situation (even if it’s a friend or family member). This goes a long way toward stabilizing your mental health until you can seek treatment.
7. Shoulder Issues
Similar to how back pain can lead to hip issues, it can also affect your shoulders. The shoulders will compensate for your lack of back mobility if you suffer from a back condition.
This inevitably leads to problems down the road. One of the most common is rotator cuff tendinitis.
This is characterized by inflammation of the tendons that surround the shoulder joint. Not only is this extremely painful, but it can make it impossible to perform basic tasks.
Reaching overhead, brushing your hair, etc. are often out of the question. Shoulder issues often lead to depression, as those affected will experience intense pain while going about their day.
8. Erectile Dysfunction/Female Sexual Arousal Disorder
Many people overlook issues in this category. Men who experience erectile dysfunction find this problem persistent even with medication.
It’s caused by the compression of blood vessels or nerves in the lower back. This can damage one’s self-esteem, romantic relationships, etc. Without treatment, this condition is unlikely to resolve on its own.
When it occurs in women, the same lower back problems make vaginal lubrication difficult. This leads to uncomfortable and painful sexual intercourse.
Women with this problem also find that it affects their self-esteem and romantic encounters. The good news is that addressing the lower back issues often fixes these complications.
9. Plantar Fasciitis
This condition is one many veterans don’t expect. As with other issues on this list, compensating for immobility leads to this problem. When you have trouble standing up straight due to back pain, it could affect the way you walk.
This can place undue stress on the plantar fascia, which is the thick band of tissue on the bottom of the foot. This will eventually lead to pain and inflammation in the arch and heel.
Running is often extremely painful, but even walking can be difficult. Plantar fasciitis also makes it unpleasant to stand for more than short periods.
Take Action Against VA Secondary Conditions to Back Pain
If you notice any of the above problems, don’t hesitate to take action. These VA secondary conditions to back pain can dramatically reduce your quality of life without the right treatment.
Ready to get started? Reach out to a representative at Veterans Educating Veterans. Our professional team can connect you with the best solutions.