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First Pain Clinic in War Zone Proves Successful

High return-to-duty rates of soldiers treated with non-battle-related pain

FRIDAY, Nov. 30 (HealthDay News) -- The first interventional pain treatment center to be established in a war zone has been successful in treating soldiers with non-battle-related acute and chronic pain so they can return to active duty, according to a report published in the current issue of Anesthesiology.

Ronald L. White, M.D., of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues report clinical data and return-to-duty rates of soldiers in Iraq with non-battle-related acute or chronic pain who were treated in the first forward-deployed pain clinic.

During a six-month period, 132 patients were treated in the pain clinic, of whom 113 were coalition forces. The most common diagnoses were lumbar radiculopathy (n=63), thoracic pain (n=13), cervical radiculopathy (n=8) and groin pain (n=8). Treatments included non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, epidural steroid injections, trigger point injections, lumbar facet blocks, groin blocks and physical therapy. The return-to-duty rate of soldiers was 94.7 percent, much higher than the 2 percent rate reported in a previous study of soldiers evacuated to tertiary care facilities for pain management when no such clinic was available.

"In conclusion, the results of this epidemiological study suggest that high return-to-duty rates are possible when early and aggressive pain management strategies are employed in forward-deployed areas," the authors write.

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