Treating Pain without pills – an opioid epidemic

Complementary Health may be able to help the Opioid Epidemic.  The prestigious  medical journal, JAMA, published a report on 2 November 2016 that said “A recent review of clinical evidence published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings by National Institutes of Health (NIH) researchers suggests that complementary health techniques have a legitimate place in a physician’s pain relief toolkit—welcome news as health care professionals and agencies grapple with the crisis of opioid abuse.” (See source)

Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illicit drug heroin as well as the legal prescription pain relievers oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and others.Spoon and pills

Opioid painkillers are supposed to provide pain relief, but because they have been heavily marketed and inappropriately prescribed, these prescription opioid pain relievers are among the most commonly misused and abused medicines, causing addiction, injuries and death.

The rise of the global prescription opioid epidemic started in the 1990s when pain specialists began to argue that there was an epidemic of untreated pain.

Researchers are investigating the mechanisms of pain and pain management. They are developing the evidence base for complementary health approaches which may provide better care to the millions of people whose chronic pain is mistreated or undertreated.

Unlike a typical systematic review that assigns quality values to the studies, this research in JAMA conducted a narrative review of complementary medical research, in which they simply looked at the number of positive and negative trials. “If there were more positives than negatives then we generally felt the approach had some value,” author Nahin explained. “If there were more negatives, we generally felt the approach had less value.”  The trials compared complementary health approaches vs controls including placebo or routine care. Studies in which the complementary therapy performed better than the control were considered positive trials in the review; studies that found no difference between the groups were considered negative trials.

Based on the number of positive vs negative trials, the analysis suggested that the following treatments, which are considered safe and with no serious adverse effects, may be able to help some patients manage certain painful conditions.

The treatments that may help are,

  • Acupuncture:
  • Massage therapy:
  • Osteopathic manipulation:
  • Relaxation techniques:
  • Spinal manipulation:

These are all available at York Clinic.  For more information or to book an appointment go to the website or ring 01904 709688