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Integrative medicine is an effective approach to chronic pain management

July 23, 2013
by Sandra Hoban, Managing Editor
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Nearly 116 million Americans suffer chronic pain at a cost estimated to be up to $635 billion annually. Research shows that integrative interventions, such as acupuncture, yoga, touch and movement, can provide sustainable effects in decreasing the instances, severity and costs of chronic pain.

Integrative medicine is a holistic approach to treating the whole person, not just the symptoms. The body, mind and spirit are treated simultaneously. In a new study from Bravewell Practiced-Based Research Network (BraveNet), published in the journal Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers found a more than 20 percent decrease in the severity of pain and about a 30 percent decrease in the interference of pain on their daily lives.

The six-month study was conducted at nine BraveNet sites. Practitioners included integrative physicians, acupuncturists, mindfulness and yoga instructors. Massage therapists, fitness/movement specialists, psychologists and others were available at some sites. Participants expressed improvements in their quality of lives, sleep, mood, stress and well-being.

“Chronic pain is difficult to treat. While there have been some therapeutic advances, many patients with chronic pain become resistant to conventional medical treatments or suffer adverse effects from widely used prescription medications with highly addictive potential,” said lead researcher Dr. Donald Abrams, an integrative medicine specialist at the University of California San Francisco Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, in a release.

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