Chronic pain patients ‘seek alternatives’

A MAJORITY of chronic pain patients may be resorting to alternative therapies and many hide the fact from their doctors, new research suggests.

RESEARCHERS in the US surveyed more than 6000 patients undergoing treatment for chronic pain in Oregon and Washington between 2009 and 2011.

They found that 58 per cent of the patients had received chiropractic treatment, or acupuncture, or both. More than a third of those undergoing acupuncture and 42 per cent of those seeing a chiropractor did not talk to their care providers about the extra help they were seeking. Lead scientist Dr Charles Elder, from the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, said: “Our study confirms that most of our patients with chronic pain are seeking complementary treatments to supplement the care we provide in the primary care setting. “The problem is that too often, doctors don’t ask about this treatment, and patients don’t volunteer the information.” The majority of participants in the study (71 per cent) were women, and the average age was 61. Common complaints included back pain, joint pain, arthritis, extremity, neck and muscle pain, and headache. Patients completed a survey that included 17 questions about the type of pain they were experiencing and their use of acupuncture, chiropractic care, and other alternative and complementary therapies. The findings are reported in the American Journal of Managed Care.