According to a new University of Michigan Health System study, more than one-third of adult patients who experience chronic pain are utilizing complementary and alternative medicine therapies to help alleviate the symptoms.
For the study, lead author Carmen Green, professor of health management and policy at the university, and her colleagues monitored 5,750 adults who were being treated for chronic pain over a six-year period. They found that 35 percent of respondents reported having used at least one form of complementary and alternative medicine therapy, with manipulation techniques, biofeedback and acupuncture being the most popular.
The research team also discovered that race and age played a large role in the utilization of alternative therapies. The techniques were most commonly used by older, more educated Caucasians with higher income levels. However, the study’s authors admitted that this disparity may be due to the differences in insurance coverage.
Green concluded that complementary and alternative medicine therapies are helpful, but should always be signed off on by a physician before being employed.
"Unfortunately patients are often reluctant to share information regarding alternative therapy usage with healthcare providers, but discussions and awareness of alternative therapy use in pain patients may improve the quality of pain care and patient safety," she noted.