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Chronic Pain and the Role of Integrative & Complementary Therapies

A recent chronic pain study showed that when integrative pain management solutions are applied to patients the cost saving can be as high as $1000 per hospital visit. With this in mind, we bring you a literature review, published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, which explored the mechanisms of chronic pain that involve complex neuroplastic changes and integrative care options for chronic pain treatment.

Although traditional pharmaceutical therapies have some efficacy, substantial scope exists for a new model of individualized therapy, tailored to the specific response of each patient. Because changes occur at all levels of the pain pathway, successful treatment may require a combination of therapies with different mechanisms of action.

This research team examined the potential changes within the peripheral nervous system (PNS) and central nervous system (CNS) of patients with chronic pain and to propose a model of chronic pain treatment involving multi-modal, complementary therapies for individualized treatment targeting multiple sites along the pain pathway.

In this study you will learn:

  • There is a growing body of evidence supports the use of a variety of complementary therapies to treat chronic pain, including curcumin, capsaicin, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, lipoic acid, acupuncture, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness meditation.
  • These therapies vary with respect to the mechanisms by which they act and the potential areas of effect along the pain pathway.
  • A number of complementary therapies may be efficacious in reducing chronic pain and/or the need for analgesics, which may offer a reduced adverse effect profile. Response rates to treatment are likely to vary between people and within therapies.
  • The available evidence suggests that efficacious complementary therapies exist that target all 3 orders of neurons and, therefore, the authors recommend multi-modal individualized treatment for each patient.

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