Chronic pain, complementary approaches are better than drugs

Acupuncture, yoga, tai chi, massage or relaxation would do better than drugs in the management and treatment of chronic pain. This is suggested by the result of a meta-analysis that reviewed 105 controlled and randomized studies conducted over the past 50 years. The review was conducted by a group of scientists from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) of the National Institutes of Health.

Both Europeans and Americans suffer quite massively from chronic and persistent pain that is generally not completely relieved by medication. Those affected then often turn to complementary health approaches to help, but it is still necessary to be sure to knock on the right door, the right practitioner or the right method to find an effective solution. Because for many people who suffer from chronic pain, the drugs ultimately provide no real answer and can produce undesirable side effects.

Back pain, osteoarthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia, migraines

The meta-analysis looked at the results of studies conducted on seven approaches used for one or more of the five most common pain conditions: back pain, osteoarthritis, neck pain, fibromyalgia, headaches and severe migraines. The most significant reductions in chronic pain according to the approach are:

▪ Acupuncture and yoga for back pain

▪ Acupuncture and Tai Chi for knee osteoarthritis

▪ Massage therapy for neck pain with immediate benefit

▪ Relaxation techniques for severe headaches and migraine.

Furthermore, researchers have also found that massage therapy, chiropractic spinal manipulation, and osteopathic manipulation can provide help in treating back pain. Relaxation and tai chi approaches help people with fibromyalgia.

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This data can help you make the right choice of the alternative therapy most related to your health problem.


Nahin RL, Boineau R, Khalsa PS, Stussman BJ, Weber WJ. Evidence-based evaluation of complementary health approaches for pain management in the United States. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2016;91(9):1292–1306.


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