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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Nondrug Approaches Effective for Treatment of Common Pain Conditions

A man rubs his aching knee

Some popular complementary health approaches appear to be effective tools for helping to manage common pain conditions.

Data from a review of U.S.-based clinical trials published Sept. 1 in Mayo Clinic Proceedings suggest that some of the most popular complementary health approaches—such as yoga, tai chi and acupuncture—appear to be effective tools for helping to manage common pain conditions. The review was conducted by a group of scientists from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Millions of Americans suffer from persistent pain that may not be fully relieved by medications. They often turn to complementary health approaches to help, yet primary care providers have lacked a robust evidence base to guide recommendations on complementary approaches as practiced and available in the United States. The new review gives primary care providers—who frequently see patients with chronic pain—tools to inform decision-making on how to help manage that pain.

“For many Americans who suffer from chronic pain, medications may not completely relieve pain and can produce unwanted side effects,” said Dr. Richard Nahin, NCCIH’s lead epidemiologist and lead author of the analysis. “As a result, many people may turn to nondrug approaches to help manage their pain. Our goal for this study was to provide relevant, high-quality information for primary care providers and for patients who suffer from chronic pain.”

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