We are working with the Canadian Chiropractic Association (CCA) to advocate for three key changes to improve spine, muscle and joint care for Canadian veterans, so they can have a smoother transition to civilian life.    

Chiropractic student with simulation mannikin at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC)

The Challenge:

Spine, muscle and joint pain is more common among our military and veteran communities than the entire Canadian population. Consider:

  • More than three million adults make more than eight million visits per year to Ontario physicians to seek care for musculoskeletal (MSK) or spine, muscle and joint concerns.1 But 40 per cent of people in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) – double that of the general population – have been diagnosed with low back pain. 2
  • Spine, muscle and joint injuries are a major occupational risk for people in the military, both in active service and civilian life.
  • MSK (spine, muscle and joint) injuries are the leading medical reason 42 per cent of CAF members end their military careers.3
  • The high incidence of MSK (spine, muscle and joint) conditions continues after a military career ends – including becoming a leading cause of disability.2

Unfortunately, CAF members also receive less care to address spine, muscle and joint issues because:

  • In Ontario, citizens do not need a referral to receive chiropractic care but for CAF members that reside off base in this province, a referral is needed. This adds further restrictions towards accessing chiropractic care for members of our Armed Forces.
  • This limited access to chiropractic care also leads to the under-reporting of spine, muscle and joint injuries in order to not negatively affect their military careers.

For CAF members to have an improved quality of life as they transition to civilian life, their spine, muscle and joint health is critical. Chiropractic care has been shown to have positive outcomes in these disorders. We have aligned with our CCA partners to advocate and advance better health care solutions for veterans across Ontario.

Building on Research and Results

Adding chiropractic care to standard medical care in the US military decreased pain and improved physical function, with no additional costs incurred.3

Chiropractors’ Impact in Advocating for Our Veterans

In March 2018, CCA submitted a brief to the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs: “A Study on Barriers to Transition and Measurable Outcomes of Successful Transition.” In this submission, CCA focused on improved MSK (spine, muscle and joint) care and a smoother transition to civilian life for CAF personnel and their families.

On behalf of our members, we are aligned with these recommendations as many CAF soldiers and personnel live in Ontario. As the OCA continues to advocate our right place in the health eco-system, improved access remains at the heart of serving Ontarians with greater access to chiropractic care and non-pharmacological pain management therapies.

How Chiropractors Support Ontarians in the Canadian Armed Forces

Aligning with our CCA partners and their research, we believe the “high incidence of chronic MSK (spine, muscle and joint) conditions among the military and veteran population could be reduced through an evidence-based strategy to identify and address gaps in MSK (spine, muscle and joint) care, and ensure care continuity during the transition from a military career to civilian life.” 5

We support CCA’s three recommendations to the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs:

  1. A proactive strategy developed jointly by Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) and the CAF to reduce the prevalence of chronic MSK (spine, muscle and joint) conditions at the end of a military career.
    • Coordinated efforts to support members of the CAF, veterans and their families alike are needed to ensure we meet our obligations to soldiers.
  2. Improved access to non-pharmacological options for pain management that has continuity in the transition to civilian life.
    • Encourage VAC and the CAF to improve access to non-pharmacological options for pain management as chiropractic care that continues from active service to civilian life.
    • The 2017 Canadian Guideline for Opioids for Non-Cancer Pain recommends a conservative approach-like chiropractic—as a first-line therapy.5
  3. An updated VAC fee guide to ensure proper funding for clinically effective MSK (spine, muscle and joint) care for veterans.
    • Encourage VAC to work with the CCA to update the National Fee Guide to adequately ensure that health care is available to veterans; thereby properly funding clinically effective health care for MSK (spine, muscle and joint) conditions provided by CCA chiropractors.

Our Future Plans

We will continue to work with our CCA partners to support these advocacy initiatives to advance a healthier and smoother transition for veterans across Ontario.

What healthcare professionals are saying…

“Non-battle-related injuries are the “hidden epidemic” plaguing modern armies(…) prevention of such injuries (…) has a pivotal role in preservation of unit readiness.”

Surgeon General James Peake

“Our freedom is not free. It is secured by the lives and sacrifices of individuals. Our rights are secure because of those who came before us and continue to serve on our behalf today.”

Dr. Dénis Tondreau, Chiropractor and Infantry Company Commander of the Canadian Armed Forces Primary Réserve.

Watch for updates on this page and in the OCA members’ bulletin 

[1] Rampersaud YR, Power JD, Perruccio AV, Paterson M, Veillette C, Badley EM, Mahomed NN. Ambulatory and Hospital Care for Osteoarthritis and Other Musculoskeletal Disorders in Ontario, Canada. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage 2017; 25(S1):S33.
[2] Veterans Affairs Canada, “Facts and Figures: September 2017.”
[3] Canadian Forces Health Services Group, “Surgeon General’s Report 2014: Consolidation Innovation Readiness,” National Defense, 2014.
[4] Goertz C., Long C., Hondras, M., et al. “Adding chiropractic manipulative therapy to standard medical care for patients with acute low back pain: results of a pragmatic randomized comparative effectiveness study.” Spine. 2013; 38 (8): 627-634.
[5] CCA Brief to the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, Study on Barriers to Transition and Measurable Outcomes to Successful Transition, March, 2018