A new study has found that medication-free treatments are effective for relieving pain caused by common conditions like headaches and arthritis. Millions of Americans seek out drug-free ways to relieve pain, including acupuncture, tai chi, and yoga. Unfortunately, there has been little information with regards to effectiveness of these methods.
Lead author Richard Nahin said, “For many Americans who suffer from chronic pain, medications may not completely relieve pain and can produce unwanted side effects. 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.”
The researchers reviewed 105 U.S.-based clinical trials that took place during the last 50 years.
The researchers found that acupuncture and yoga were effective for back pain, acupuncture and tai chi treated knee osteoarthritis, and relaxation techniques benefited headaches and migraines. Massage therapy also showed promising results for neck pain.
Evidence was weaker for some cases, but the researchers found that massage therapy, spinal manipulation, and osteopathic manipulation might help relieve back pain, while relaxation therapy and tai chi might help people with fibromyalgia.
David Shurtleff, director at the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), added, “These data can equip providers and patients with the information they need to have informed conversations regarding nondrug approaches for treatment of specific pain conditions. It’s important that continued research explore how these approaches actually work and whether these findings apply broadly in diverse clinical settings and patient populations.”