A recent evidence review from clinical trials of a variety of traditional remedies, also known as complementary medicine, has shown potential to decrease common pain symptoms. These traditional remedies include acupuncture, yoga, tai chi, massage therapy and relaxation techniques.
The review, conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, was published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings on 1st September, 2016. The scientists who reviewed it were from National Institute of Health.
Pain is the most common ailment and its drug abuse is common in US. Health services spend more than $30 billion annually.
About 40 million US adults face extreme pain in any given year, and they spend more than $14 billion, out-of-pocket, on complementary approaches to manage such painful conditions as back pain, neck pain and arthritis.
“Our goal for this study was to provide relevant, high-quality information for primary care providers and for patients who suffer from chronic pain,” commented by Richard L Nahin, PhD, study lead epidemiologist.
Complementary approaches such as those mentioned above are used in conjunction with mainstream medical care. Because of extensive use of complementary medicine, many healthcare facilities provided both kind of services.
Such treatments are used to treat common pain conditions that are often treated in primary care settings. These conditions included: back pain, osteoarthritis, neck pain, severe headaches and migraine and fibromyalgia.
The researchers analyzed data from MEDLINE’s database for randomized, controlled trials published from 1966 through March 2016 and conducted in the United States or including US participants.
The US population was considered since it has relevant healthcare facilities including standard care and also licensed requirements to complementary therapies where needed.
The researchers put their attention on seven common and popular complementary medicine techniques including: acupuncture; spinal manipulation or osteopathic manipulation; massage therapy; tai chi; yoga; relaxation techniques including meditation; and selected natural product supplements, including chondroitin, glucosamine, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe), and omega-3 fatty acids.
If the complementary approach managed to reduce pain, improved pain-related disability conditions or improved functionality, it was deemed positive in terms of effectiveness and efficacy. A result was considered negative when there was no difference between control group and intervention groups.
The researchers found that the following complementary techniques had more positive results than negatives and therefore could prove useful in providing pain relief management for certain painful health conditions: acupuncture and yoga for back pain; acupuncture and tai chi for osteoarthritis of the knee; massage therapy for neck pain—with adequate doses and for short-term benefit and relaxation techniques for severe headaches and migraine.
However, the evidence was not too strong. The researchers found that massage therapy, spinal manipulation and osteopathic manipulation may relieve some people with back pain, and relaxation approaches and tai chi may help people with fibromyalgia, a condition with localized stiffness and muscular pain.
Reporting of safety information was low overall, and no trial reported a serious adverse event linked to a complementary approach. The most common adverse events were gastrointestinal problems from glucosamine, chondroitin, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), or S-adenosyl-L-methionine(SAMe). In few of the trials, there was observable minor muscle or joint soreness from tai chi and yoga, or minor pain and or bruising at sites where acupuncture needles had been inserted.
The researchers’ findings were generally in line with most of the recent systematic reviews. They did, however, note some methodological limitations to their review, including small trial sizes, uncertain clinical relevance even if statistical superiority was present, or differences in the interventions provided in each study.
There have been other no-conventional approaches to dealing with pain. One most notable would be marijuana, the world’s most popular drug. Since the legalization of marijuana in many US states, people have been taking medicinal marijuana to treat many of their health problems including pain. It’s not just some hippie trend, there is actual proof of marijuana’s positive effects on health.
Recent studies have backed the claim of marijuana’s positive effects on health. A new study conducted by researchers Ashley Bradford and W David Bradford at the University of Georgia has found that medical marijuana laws reduce prescription drug use in Medicare Part D, the policy section that deals with subsidizing the costs of prescription drugs and prescription drug insurance premiums for Medicare users.
The researchers identified nine conditions for which medical marijuana has evidence of efficacy in treatment—including anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, and pain. The study also compared overall prescriptions for other existing drugs in states where medical marijuana is legal compared to states where it is illegal. They also analyzed Medicare Part D spending in states that have legalized medical marijuana.
This latest discovery will be a challenge for the medical community, especially the health policymakers. They will have to make compatible laws and feasible solutions to make complementary medical facilities more accessible to the general population.
They will also need to promote further studies and clinical trials in the future to solidify the advantages of complementary medicine. Health policymakers and government bodies should also list down all possible adverse reactions to such approaches to educate and inform the public.