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Complementary therapies in pain management 

Complementary therapies in pain management
Complementary therapies in pain management

Gary Deng

and Barrie R. Cassileth

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date: 16 May 2022

Complementary therapies are modalities that are not traditionally part of Western medical care. Some of these therapies have demonstrated a favourable benefit:risk ratio in recent research and many can be incorporated into a multimodality pain management plan. In general, complementary therapies reduce pain by interfering with the processing of pain signals or lessen the impact of pain on the patient’s emotional state. Mind-body therapies, such as hypnosis, meditation, yoga/qigong, and music therapy, can reduce anxiety, depression, and stress-all common in patients experiencing pain. Acupuncture appears to have direct analgesic effects and reduce nausea and vomiting, which are potential side effects from opioid therapy. Massage therapy may reduce anxiety, and to a lesser degree, depression and pain. Complementary therapies are generally safe when provided by trained practitioners, although certain safety precautions still need to be exercised. The origin of pain, the factors complicating it, burdens and risks to patient, and each patient’s belief system and cultural background should all be considered when selecting from among the complementary modalities for pain.

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