Magazine

The Veterans Administration on Massage, PTSD and Chronic Pain

Massage therapists can learn more about health issues faced by returning veterans by visiting the Web site of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs—and can also refer clients to the site to learn more about massage and body therapies.

Most of the military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan will develop mental-health problems, mainly post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), new research shows. Musculoskeletal problems are also common among returning veterans.

In the article, "Health and Exposure Concerns of Veterans Deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan," published in the May issue of Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, researchers note that "the majority of veterans (55 percent) had a mental health concern, most commonly, post-traumatic stress disorder."

"Many studies indicate that more frequent and more intense involvement in combat operations increases the risk of developing chronic PTSD and associated mental health problems," reads a statement on the Web site of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "Initial evidence indicates that combat operations in Iraq are very intense. Soldiers in Iraq are at risk for being killed or wounded themselves, are likely to have witnessed the suffering of others, and may have participated in killing or wounding others as part of combat operations. All of these activities have a demonstrated association with the development of PTSD."

The site (www.rehab.research.va.gov) contains numerous short articles on massage therapy and additional types of body therapies, as well as on chronic pain and PTSD. Topics include:

  • Massage therapy as a nonpharmacological intervention for chronic pain;
  • Massage and bodywork as complementary therapies for vets with HIV/AIDS;
  • Aromatherapy; and
  • An examination of the relationship between chronic pain and PTSD.

—Karen Menehan