Depending on the kind of person you are you might opt for medication to get rid of the pain you feel or you might prefer going in the pill-less route. Both schools of thought have its supporters. However, a new study provides further support for people who think that pain can be relieved without them having to take pain relief pills.
Though painkillers have their use a lot of times patients suffering from chronic and serious pain don’t find them effective, and have to suffer from the side effects while taking them. The opioid epidemic in the U.S. is continuously growing. That is why a lot of health providers are also not willing to prescribe huge doses of prescription painkillers as doing so can give rise to addiction.
A new study wanted to observe whether or not the alternatives to painkillers, from yoga to meditation to massage, could work in helping individuals deal with chronic pain.
The lead author of the study, Richard Nahin, Lead Epidemiologist at National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, National Institutes of Health (NIH), said that the researchers don’t believe that the non-painkiller approach will be the perfect answer. However, they may be effective when used together with medication in order to aid in the reduction of becoming too reliable on opioid medication and experiencing the side effects that come along with it. The study aimed to understand “evidence-based” approaches for managing pain by focusing on alternative treatment methods.
A total of 105 previously conducted studies that examined alternate forms of pain relief to show their effectiveness were analyzed by NIH researchers. The findings of the study were published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
Techniques such as massage therapy, yoga, relaxation exercises and acupuncture were focused on in the conducted studies that were analyzed. The results showed that these alternative techniques were effective in reducing painful conditions that included fibromyalgia, severe headaches, back pain, osteoarthritis, and migraines.
Yoga and acupuncture were seen to help with back pain relief while massage therapy was effective for treating neck pain. Relaxation techniques aided in the alleviation of pain due to migraines or severe headaches.
The goal of the current research, according to Nahin, is to help and encourage health providers and patients to consider different and effective methods of pain relief rather than just prescription medications that also give rise to side effects. These alternative forms of pain relief are to work as supplements to current medications rather than replacing them completely.
An anesthesiologist and interventional pain physician and Partner at Louisiana Pain Specialists, Dr. Neil Jolly, added that significant evidence showing that alternative therapies are effective and should be used alongside traditional medications has been shared by the current study. The results should encourage health providers to consider a versatile approach when treating chronic pain in their patients. He further went on to say that the kind of medications that can prescribed by physicians have become limited due to new regulations because of severe side effects that are associated with certain painkillers. As far as his own practice is concerned, his goal is to reduce the dosage of medication after pain has decreased and search for alternative therapies that’ll help his patients to manage pain.
The deputy director of NCCIH, David Shurtleff, said that more research needs to be conducted in order to exactly see how these alternative approaches work and their effectiveness in a wider patient population.