A Closer Look at Chronic Pain Treatments

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Chronic pain is disabling and a major cause of lost work productivity, increased medical costs and decreased quality of life. It is a far-reaching and complex problem challenging individuals, their families and society at large.

Current management typically consists of prescription medications or provider-based, behavioral or interventional procedures.

Stricter Rules on their Way

Starting this month hydrocodone, the most commonly prescribed painkiller in the U.S., falls under stricter rules in an effort to combat prescription drug abuse.[i] This shows a shift towards changing how pain is managed and a move to reduce street access to hydrocodone-related drugs like Vicodin.

For those suffering with pain, what are the alternatives?

Many patients would be open to drug-free solutions. However without clear alternatives, those with chronic pain are left with few options.

Samueli Institute’s recent review[ii] of the topic reveals that modalities such as yoga, tai chi and music therapy may be promising integrative* treatment options for alleviating chronic pain symptoms. However, few studies were high enough quality to provide strong recommendations.

A Need for Research Dollars

This illustrates the intense need for research dollars to allow for more high quality, high impact studies to provide patients and doctors more scientifically tested options when it comes to treating pain. 

This research would be able to test the hypothesis that active self-care complementary and integrative therapies have the potential to provide more efficient and comprehensive chronic pain management as they allow for a more diverse, patient-centered and whole person (body, mind and spirit) treatment of complex symptoms, promote self-management, and are relatively safe and cost-effective. 

Interested in the Science Behind the Ratings?

Click here to learn more about the individual studies included and assessed in the review.

*Integrative medicine selects the best, scientifically-validated therapies regardless of whether it is a conventional, alternative or complementary medical practice.


[i] http://www.ofr.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2014-19922_PI.pdf

[ii] Special Issue: Are Active Self-Care Complementary and Integrative Therapies Effective for Management of Chronic Pain? A Rapid Evidence Assessment of the Literature and Recommendations for the Field http://samueliinstitute.org/detail/detail-page?ContentId=06f8b4a9-d088-4645-85f0-3b5e1b06e394