About half of the American soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan return home to the U.S. in chronic pain, according to a new study that also found about one in seven soldiers were using opioid pain relievers.
The study, the first to assess the prevalence of chronic pain and opioid use in the infantry after combat deployment, is being published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Researchers at Walter Reed Army Hospital surveyed over 2,500 soldiers who had been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, nearly half of whom reported combat injuries. The prevalence of chronic pain was much higher than the civilian population, with 44% of the soldiers indicating they were in pain longer than three months and 15.1% reporting the recent use of opioids. That compares to 26% and 4% respectively in the civilian population.