A recent publication in Mayo Clinic Proceedings explored the benefits of complementary therapy in the greater picture of pain management. This is a subject we’ve preached on the blog time and time again; There is no magic pill for chronic pain, and you need to put in the effort to have the best results. Oftentimes this comes in the form of other activities in conjunction with the standard care of rest, rehab, physical therapy, etc. Some of these complementary methods include:
- Tai Chi
- Massage Therapy
“Medications may not completely relieve chronic pain or can produce unwanted side effects, including the potential for addiction. Thus, many people may turn to complementary health approaches to help manage their pain,” said Richard L. Nahin, PhD, MPH, lead epidemiologist at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
Complementary Medicine Benefits
Without going into too much detail, the article looked at a number of complementary approaches to common chronic ailments. What they found was that acupuncture and yoga were beneficial for individuals with back pain, acupuncture and tai chi had benefits for knee osteoarthritis, and massage therapy was proven useful for individuals with cervical spine and neck pain. Considering that more than 120 million Americans deal with some sort of chronic pain, these complementary approaches have the potential to positively affect millions of people.
This beneficial link is important because unfortunately many people have to pay out of pocket for some of these treatment techniques. In fact, national data suggests that people pay more than $8.5 billion annually for out of pocket complementary treatments for back pain alone. Now that there’s a link between these approaches and chronic pain improvement, there may soon be a push to make some of these options at least partially covered by insurance. It may require insurance companies to spend a little more in the short-term, but if it helps people recover faster and more fully, it could greatly reduce expenses in the long run.
We need to continue investing money into chronic pain research to find the best methods to treat pain, reduce costs and help patients.
Thomas Cohn, MD
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