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Chronic Pain Management Alternatives Show Promise

Chronic Pain Management Alternatives Show Promise

A variety of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies show promise for contributing to pain management, according to research presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Pain Society (APS), held recently in Austin, Texas. CAM therapies—which include meditation and relaxation techniques, manual therapies (eg, massage and spinal manipulation), meditative exercise forms (eg, yoga and tai chi), and ancient health practices (eg, acupuncture)—are used widely to help manage headache, back and neck pain, and arthritis and other musculoskeletal pain.

About 38% of US adults 18 years and older and about 12% of children use some form of CAM therapy, according to a 2008 nationwide government survey. Back pain is the most common condition for which adults use CAM therapies. Published studies include tai chi for fibromyalgia. Symptom management is where research can have the greatest impact, it was noted. The integration of some CAM therapies with conventional medicine for pain management is being pursued actively in several military health care settings.

For more information about pain management and the APS annual meeting, visit the APS Web site at Or, contact the organization at American Pain Society, 4700 W Lake Avenue, Glenview, IL 60025; telephone: (847) 375-4715; fax: (866) 574-2654 or (847) 375-6479.

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