Pain Management Through Complementary Medicine

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You can now learn what complementary and alternative treatments are best suited for your ailment, along with associated information like side effects, risks, and how each therapy can be used safely.

The American Pain Foundation (APF) announced today the launch of a new online educational module focusing on safe use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as part of its PainSAFE™ (Pain Safety & Access For Everyone) initiative. The module, developed with materials and assistance from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), provides consumers and health care professionals information on the effectiveness of CAM therapies for managing pain.  CAM therapies highlighted include acupuncture, massage, spinal manipulation, relaxation therapies, yoga, tai chi, and dietary supplements.

CAM is defined by NCCAM as a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine as practiced by medical doctors (MDs) or doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs) and by their allied health professionals such as physical therapists, psychologists, and registered nurses.  It is estimated that more than 83 million Americans use some form of CAM therapy to manage and treat their health problems including pain—spending more than $33.9 billion a year on out-of-pocket visits to CAM practitioners and purchases of CAM products, classes and materials.   Some of the most common pain-related reasons people seek CAM therapies are for back pain, followed by neck pain, joint pain, arthritis, severe headaches or migraines, and fibromyalgia pain.

"There are many different treatment options available to lessen the pain, improve functioning and enhance quality of life for the more than 116 million Americans living with chronic pain, including CAM therapy," said Will Rowe, CEO of APF.  "What works for one person doesn't always work for another. An effective pain management plan must be individualized and very often an integrative approach, which includes a combination of treatment options, is needed.  A person in pain should be informed about all of their treatment options, risks associated with each option, possible side effects, and how these options can safely be used to manage their pain.  PainSAFE provides consumers the tools and resources they need to become active participants in their pain care and offers health care providers the latest scientific information on treatment modalities."

For more information, please visit www.painfoundation.org, www.nccam.nih.gov/, and www.painsafe.org.