Natural pain relief including yoga and tai chi could reduce pain without the side effects of common drugs.
Recent studies have shown mediation could be an effective alternative to anti-depressant drugs but what about physical pain? A new study has found that complementary health practices such as yoga, tai chi and acupuncture could be effective ways to treat pain such as back pain, arthritis and headaches.
With many people turning to non-drug therapies to relieve pain, researchers from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health conducted a study to find out if these alternative methods really did have as much of an effect on pain relief as some claim.
Data from 105 randomized controlled trials over the span of 50 years was analyzed and the results were surprising – different non-drug methods targeted different types of pain. The study focused primarily on common pain conditions such as migraines, headaches, back and neck pain, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. Tai chi and acupuncture were the most effective against osteoarthritis, while yoga targeted back pain. Relaxation techniques helped with headaches including migraines.
“These data can equip providers and patients with the information they need to have informed conversations regarding non-drug approaches for treatment of specific pain conditions,” stated Dr. David Shurtleff, deputy director of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health at the NIH. “It’s important that continued research explore how these approaches actually work and whether these findings apply broadly in diverse clinical settings and patient populations.”
There was also evidence in the study that manipulation techniques such as massage therapy, osteopathic manipulation and spinal manipulation helped with back pain.
The researchers are hoping that people will be more willing to try non-drug approaches to their pain as many drugs don’t completely relieve the pain and can produce side effects. Not to mention to growing dependency by some on opioid drugs.
“For many Americans who suffer from chronic pain, medications may not completely relieve pain and can produce unwanted side effects,” said lead epidemiologist at the NCCIH and lead author of the new study, Dr. Richard Nahin. “As a result, many people may turn to nondrug approaches to help manage their pain. Our goal for this study was to provide relevant, high-quality information for primary care providers and for patients who suffer from chronic pain.”
Details of the study were published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.