Alternative Therapies Gaining Acceptance for Pain Control

In response to the opioid crisis, a special issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia was published to share information on other treatment options for chronic and postoperative pain.

“In the current opioid crisis era, many integrative medical therapies can be used as complements to mainstream medicine to address pain and reduce opioid abuse and addiction-related disease,” write Yuan-Chi Lin, M.D., M.P.H., and colleagues at Harvard Medical School.

Lin and coauthors analyzed 32 studies directed at seven non-pharmacological therapies for pain.  Sometimes referred to as complementary, alternative or integrative medicine, these treatments are gaining popularity and acceptance in the medical community as viable options.  In fact, these Harvard researchers concluded that, “Integrative medicine for pain can play a major role in reducing the frequency and amount of opioid usage.”

The results of the study show that there is significant evidence for providers to utilize these options in patient care.  Specifically, there was “strong positive evidence” for acupuncture as a chronic pain treatment.  Additionally, results show that the need for opioids post-surgery was reduced with acupuncture.  Opioid-related side effects were likewise reduced.

Other therapies involved in the study were spinal manipulation, yoga, relaxation techniques (such as mindfulness meditation), tai chi, and massage therapy.  Each of these showed “positive preliminary evidence” of effectiveness in pain treatment.

Only a few of the studies reviewed specified when there was a reduction in medications in general, or if the reduction was specific to opioid pain relievers.  In either event, Lin and coauthors conclude, “The consensus and results of this review suggest that complementary health approaches can help to improve pain and reduce opioid use.”


SOURCE: Nauert, PhD., Rick. Yoga, Alternative Therapies Show Promise in Helping to Control Pain.