A 130-pound staff sergeant served in Afghanistan, typically carrying armor and gear that weighed between 80 and 90 pounds, inspectors have learned. The sergeant suffered a pinched nerve while carrying his gear during a tour in Iraq. He also sustained a cracked vertebra while in the United States. Then, in Afghanistan, he fell from a roof while wearing all his gear and injured his shoulder.
The sergeant described the pain to a doctor as bone-on-bone grinding. Little by little, he began to drop some of his gear, like extra batteries, three of his seven ammo magazines, and started using a lighter rifle.
At least, he went back to Washington state weeks early with other injured soldiers. He had to undergo spinal-fusion surgery and a ruptured disc was removed from his spine.
“I told them I had had enough. I was done,” the 35-year-old sergeant told a superior.
Medical providers often have to prescribe opiates to the soldiers who suffer back injuries due to their gear.
“Primary care providers… have had very limited tools in their toolbox. It’s medications for the most part and maybe physical therapy, but very little to offer in addition to that,” the chief of the department of pain management at the Madigan Army Medical Center and officials in Manhattan and Long Island told a doctor.
The continuing wars have only increased the use of these drugs. An Army report in 2010 revealed 14 percent of soldiers had a prescription for opiates. The Army is rightly concerned that this availability of pain drugs may lead to more abuse of drugs.
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