Complementary and alternative medicine therapies for chronic pain

Brent A. Bauer, Jon C. Tilburt, Amit Sood, Guang xi Li, Shi han Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Pain afflflicts over 50 million people in the US, with 30.7% US adults suffering with chronic pain. Despite advances in therapies, many patients will continue to deal with ongoing symptoms that are not fully addressed by the best conventional medicine has to offer them. The patients frequently turn to therapies outside the usual purview of conventional medicine (herbs, acupuncture, meditation, etc.) called complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Academic and governmental groups are also starting to incorporate CAM recommendations into chronic pain management strategies. Thus, for any physician who care for patients with chronic pain, having some familiarity with these therapies—including risks and benefits—will be key to helping guide patients in making evidence-based, well informed decisions about whether or not to use such therapies. On the other hand, if a CAM therapy has evidence of both safety and efficacy then not making it available to a patient who is suffering does not meet the need of the patient. We summarize the current evidence of a wide variety of CAM modalities that have potential for helping patients with chronic pain in this article. The triad of chronic pain symptoms, ready access to information on the internet, and growing patient empowerment suggest that CAM therapies will remain a consistent part of the healthcare of patients dealing with chronic pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-411
Number of pages9
JournalChinese Journal of Integrative Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • chronic pain
  • complementary and alternative medicine
  • safety and efficacy
  • therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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