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Army Looks to Yoga for Pain Relief

WASHINGTON, DC -- To better address the chronic pain issues many former combat soldiers experience, a recently released Army Surgeon General report recommends using alternative practices, such as yoga, acupuncture and biofeedback.

Reports of severely wounded soldiers abusing prescription medicines and attempting suicide because of chronic pain prompted the report. The Pain Management Task Force was initiated by Lt. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker, Army surgeon general, in August of 2009. The report also found that pain management has changed very little since morphine was discovered in 1805.

He said the Army examined research on the effectiveness of complementary techniques, and that he would like to see them integrated more into traditional medical treatments.

“Programs such as biofeedback and yoga have been subjected to scientific randomized trials and have been proven to be effective,” Schoomaker said.

Schoomaker said his goal with the task force was to form a holistic pain management strategy that puts soldiers’ quality of life first. Task force members visited 28 military, Veterans Affairs and civilian medical centers between October 2009 and January 2010 to observe best practices and treatment capabilities.

He plans to implement task force recommendations that can be enacted under his authority in the coming months. The 2010 National Defense Authorization Act also asked the Secretary of Defense to integrate a pain management policy into the military health care system no later than March 2011.

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