Many people who take medications for chronic pain sometimes wonder whether there is more they can do to manage their condition better. More and more, medical research is showing that the answer is a resounding yes.
While prescription and over-the-counter medications can be useful in treating chronic pain, efforts to manage pain can often be enhanced by using an integrative approach to care that combines traditional medicine with complementary and alternative therapies.
Integrative care can include a variety of methods such as yoga, acupuncture, massage, physical therapy, biofeedback, tai chi and meditation. Many experts agree that integrative care must be tailored to the patient, as not every treatment will be effective or appropriate for everyone. Each patient should have a plan that meets his or her individual needs.
“A pain management plan that utilizes an integrative approach yields the best results for many people with pain. In combination with medication, alternative and complementary therapies can help patients better manage their pain and lead more fulfilling lives,” says Robert Bonakdar, M.D., of the American Academy of Pain Management. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution, so people with chronic pain may need to try different therapies to find the best approach to pain management. Communicating openly and honestly with your healthcare provider is essential to finding the right approach.”
Today, integrative care is becoming an increasingly popular pain management strategy. In fact, the National Institutes of Health reports that 38 percent of adults in the United States (about four out of 10) use some form of complementary or alternative medicine to treat common problems such as back, neck or joint pain.
People with pain should ask their doctor if an integrative approach to pain management is right for them.