BOSTON (CBS) –  Over the last decade the United States has been involved in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Roughly 60-percent of returning veterans from there suffer some sort of chronic pain.

Read-Listen: Chronic Pain – Stories Of Struggle And Hope: The Series

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Dr. Diana Higgins, a pain psychologist at VA Boston, says she sees a correlation between chronic pain and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“Chronic pain for these younger folks is as prevalent if not more so than PTSD, coming back but they co-occur very frequently. And it makes it challenging. Both things really need to be addressed and they’re addressed similarly, but not necessarily by the same people,” she told WBZ NewsRadio 1030.  “And that’s maybe one thing that I think we’re working on in VA. Folks are looking at how to treat these two things simultaneously with some of these psychological approaches.”

We have been hearing over and over about the use of opioids as treatment for chronic pain and the stigma that comes with it.

“The VA has been actually at the forefront at the medical approach to opioids by delivering the Opioid Safety Initiative,”said Dr. Milan Stojanovic, Chief of Pain Medicine at VA Boston, “to make sure that the approach to pain and opioids is step-wise.”

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And the goal is to treat the disease with modern research techniques and get the veterans back to some sense of pain relief.

”A lot of people when they’re in pain they don’t do the things that they used to enjoy. And helping them move back in that direction can actually help their depression improve a little bit.”

And improving the lives of those with chronic pain will help everyone around them.

Coming up in part six, the impact of pain on the entire family.

Listen: Part 5 – Chronic Pain – Stories Of Struggle And Hope

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