Arthritis Can Hit Troops And Vets Hard. Here’s How Advocates Want To Respond.

Originally published in Military Times

As active-duty personnel and veterans feel the damaging effects of arthritis stemming from their service, advocates are pushing Congress to dedicate more money for research on potential ways to treat and prevent the disease.

Veterans are more likely to develop arthritis than civilians, according to an October 2018 study. Other studies indicate that osteoarthritis is the second-leading cause of military discharge, behind combat wounds.

“A lot of the progress to be made with arthritis is about prevention,” said Dr. Colin Edgerton, a former Army rheumatologist and current chair of the American College of Rheumatology’s Committee on Rheumatological Care.

“It’s about stopping those injuries before they occur so that that person is not looking at early joint replacement surgery and disability at a point in life where they otherwise would not have had that,” he said.

During his time in the military, Edgerton was primarily responsible for treating soldiers with musculoskeletal disorders. As part of his job, he had to judge whether soldiers with arthritis or similar degenerative issues needed to be medically discharged or not.

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