Veterans Affairs

Women Veterans and chronic pain

VA Women’s Health encourages women Veterans to talk to their VA provider about their chronic pain. You can work with your provider to create an individualized pain management plan that incorporates mental and physical health strategies that allow you to get back to doing the things you love.

Chronic pain is a lingering pain that interferes with women Veterans’ daily lives. As many as 75% of women Veterans accessing VA care experience chronic pain. Migraine and back pain are two of the top service-connected conditions for women Veterans. Many also experience chronic neck pain, pelvic pain, arthritis, joint problems, and fibromyalgia, among others.

Women Veterans may experience more barriers to seeking care for chronic pain, including stigma, lack of social support, higher levels of responsibility for home and child-care duties, and limited transportation. Women frequently see their provider with multiple co-occurring pain conditions, and pain of unclear etiology, which can make diagnosis and treatment challenging.

High rates of trauma in women with pain can make them reluctant to ask for specialty care and many feel as if specialists, who predominantly treat men, are not equipped to care for them. Because women with pain are at risk of having their pain written off as psychological, they can feel stigmatized and distrustful of the system.

Not always curable, but manageable

Limited social support and the stress of juggling home, dependent care, and employment or education demands can make it hard to prioritize pain self-management or appointments.

Although chronic pain is often not fully curable, with help, support, and an optimal care plan, you can learn to better manage your pain, so you have more time and energy for the things you love.

Work with your VA primary care provider to determine what combination of pain management therapies best fit your individual circumstances and needs.

In addition to comprehensive primary care and women’s health services, VA has many resources to help women Veterans learn about available chronic pain services.

Links to chronic pain services

  • VA Women’s Health – Chronic Pain: Information and resources to help Veterans learn about the wide range of chronic pain symptoms and management options VA offers women Veterans.
  • VA Women’s Health – Chronic Pelvic Pain: Information and resources to help women Veterans learn about chronic pelvic pain and the treatment options available at VA.
  • VHA Directive 1137: Directive allowing VA to offer Veterans massage as a treatment.
  • Podcast discussing chronic pain specifically in women Veterans and the treatment options available at VA.
  • Podcast episode discussing pelvic health in women Veterans and treatment options as well as potential causes of pelvic pain.
  • VA Whole Health: Information and resources to help Veterans implement integrated health practices like mindfulness, meditation, and yoga, which can help Veterans manage their chronic pain.
  • VA News – Chronic Pain: Archive of feature stories about chronic pain and the wide array of treatments available at VA, includes articles on cognitive behavioral therapy, yoga, acupuncture, physical therapy, and more.

If you have chronic pain, speak with your VA health care provider to make a personalized chronic pain management plan. You can also call or text the Women Veterans Call Center at 1-855-829-6636.

Sourced from:

Information vetted by the Veteran X Team.


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