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Complementary and Alternative Medical Therapies for Pain 

Complementary and Alternative Medical Therapies for Pain
Chapter:
Complementary and Alternative Medical Therapies for Pain
Author(s):

Richard E. Harris

and Suzanna M. Zick

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199859436.003.0005
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date: 11 December 2019

Complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) are a heterogeneous group of therapies, which are highly utilized by people with chronic pain. Because of the heterogeneous nature of CAM therapies and the variety of pain disorders for which they are utilized this chapter highlights three highly prevalent CAM treatments—acupuncture, massage, and chiropractic and focuses on three of the most common chronic pain disorders: chronic non-specific low back pain, knee osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia. Evidence-based research indicates that massage and chiropractic may induce analgesic benefits in the short term, requiring ongoing treatment similar to conventional pain medications; acupuncture has the added benefit of long-term analgesia without continued sessions. Overall, these CAM treatments are largely safe, and in some cases they are even cost-effective, making them important tools in our clinical armamentarium. More rigorous clinical trials are needed especially in patients with fibromyalgia and knee osteoarthritis.

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