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Role of Alternative Therapies for Chronic Pain Syndromes

Abstract

There is increasing interest in the use of complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM) for the treatment of chronic pain. This review examines alternative and complimentary therapies, which can be incorporated as part of a biopsychosocial approach in the treatment of chronic pain syndromes. In the present investigation, literature from articles indexed on PubMed was evaluated including topics of alternative therapies, complimentary therapies, pain psychology, biofeedback therapy, physical exercise therapies, acupuncture, natural and herbal supplements, whole-body cryotherapy, and smartphone technologies in the treatment of chronic pain syndromes. This review highlights the key role of psychology in the treatment of chronic pain. Cognitive behavior therapy appears to be the most impactful while biofeedback therapy has also been shown to be effective for chronic pain. Exercise therapy has been shown to be effective in short-, intermediate-, and long-term pain states. When compared to that in sham controls, acupuncture has shown some benefit for neck pain immediately after the procedure and in the short term and improvement has also been demonstrated in the treatment of headaches. The role of smartphones and whole-body cryotherapy are new modalities and further studies are needed. Recent literature suggests that several alternate therapies could play a role in the treatment of chronic pain, supporting the biopsychosocial model in the treatment of pain states.

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Correspondence to Nalini Vadivelu.

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Donna-Ann Thomas, Benjamin Maslin, Aron Legler, Erin Springer, Abbas Asgerally, and Nalini Vadivelu declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Other Pain

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Thomas, DA., Maslin, B., Legler, A. et al. Role of Alternative Therapies for Chronic Pain Syndromes. Curr Pain Headache Rep 20, 29 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11916-016-0562-z

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11916-016-0562-z

Keywords

  • Chronic pain
  • Alternative medicine
  • Complimentary and alternative medicine
  • Biofeedback
  • Cryotherapy