When a Canadian joins the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), the military becomes responsible for their health care. Once they complete their military service, these Canadians return as Veterans to the care of their respective provincial and territorial health systems. The transition out of the military impacts each person differently. Veterans, especially those with service-related injuries, can face a host of unique health challenges including chronic pain.
There are different methods and modalities that can be used to combat chronic pain. All of these methods involve education to better understand how chronic pain impacts you, your life, and your family. While chronic pain cannot be treated, it can be managed. Each individual will experience pain differently. According to recent Veterans Affairs Canada research, 63% of Veterans who suffer from chronic pain will also be suffering from a mental health condition. The two conditions are highly interrelated or co-morbid in medical terminology.
Veterans with recognized service-related injuries receive treatment benefits from Veterans Affairs Canada. These treatment benefits provide health benefits or coverage to Veterans that are not available through the provincial and territorial health systems. The severity of chronic pain in each individual will vary as they experience pain differently. For some Veterans, a better understanding of how chronic pain impacts their life will allow them to make changes to improve their well-being and to use their treatment benefits to better manage their pain. For other Veterans, a higher level of care is required.
For those with severe chronic pain, the CPCoE recommends interdisciplinary care. This is the highest level of care available. Interdisciplinary Pain Management Centres or Clinics provide care through a whole person approach where the doctor, pharmacist, psychologist, and team work together with a Veteran to better manage their pain. VAC has a list of approved Interdisciplinary Pain Management Centres (also referred to as multidisciplinary clinics or MDCs) where Veterans can receive care. In order to access interdisciplinary care in those locations, Veterans need to be approved by VAC through their Treatment benefits. This is accomplished through their Case Manager or Case Worker. If a Veteran does not have a Case Manager, their request will be reviewed at VAC by a Case Worker.
As a research centre, the CPCoE works with a small number of Interdisciplinary Pain Management Centres to better understand chronic pain in Veterans. The aim is to better identify which practices used in those locations are having the best effects on Veteran well-being. Once identified, these lessons will be shared as widely as possible to improve pain management for all parties.