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Complementary Approaches to Pain Management

Complementary Approaches to Pain Management

Pain management is a battle doctors fight every day. Everyone’s body responds differently to pain and to treatments aimed at relieving that pain. Opioid drugs are overused and often misused by Americans as they search for a way to relieve their pain.

The National Institute of Health’s MedlinePlus Magazine spoke to Dr. Josephine Briggs, director of the National Center for Complementary & Integrative Health (NCCIH), about the research they are doing on complementary approaches to help manage pain. She stated that opioids don’t help people develop personal strategies for pain relief, and that a recent study funded by NCCIH suggests that regular long term yoga may improve the pain people experience.
When asked how the medical community might change in the future as a result of the pain research that is currently going on, she said the following: “Americans do turn to complementary practices for pain management. We know from data that many people living with pain try these various approaches for pain and many use them quite extensively. That includes relaxation techniques like breathing and meditation. It includes chiropractic, massage, and acupuncture. While we recognize that they are helpful to people, we really do not see them as integrated into conventional care yet to improve pain management. The evidence makes it promising, but we aren't quite there yet.”

Hopefully in the future, complementary treatments for pain management will become more mainstream and be the first therapies used in managing pain.