A Comprehensive Review of Alternative Therapies for the Management of Chronic Pain Patients: Acupuncture, Tai Chi, Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine, and Chiropractic Care

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Advances in Therapy


Introduction: Non-pharmacologic alternative therapies for pain have been around for a long time, some for hundreds of years. They have been used throughout history to treat many issues. Recent Findings: Currently, alternative medicine is most frequently used to treat musculoskeletal pain, and between 59 and 90% of patients utilizing alternative therapies for chronic pain claimed they were helpful and can serve as an effective adjunctive for the treatment of chronic pain. Some examples of alternative therapies that will be discussed in this review include acupuncture, tai chi, osteopathic manipulation, and chiropractic care. Acupuncture, traditionally a Chinese practice, is becoming more popular across the world to attempt to relieve pain. It involves the placement of thin needles at various points in the body. The efficacy of acupuncture for pain is heavily debated. More research and discussion are necessary to determine the exact role it plays in the treatment of chronic pain. Tai chi is also a traditional Chinese practice that is often used as a form of meditation and for potential health benefits. Tai chi involves a series of complex movements such as squatting combined with deep breathing to achieve relaxation and pain reduction. Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) is a technique used by both osteopathic physicians (DO) as well as other health professionals to manage a wide range of conditions in any given patient. The technique involves utilization and manipulation of the musculoskeletal system to achieve potential health benefits. OMT has been used as therapy for many issues but is commonly used for pain conditions. Summary: Alternative therapies may serve as an effective adjunctive treatment modality for the management of chronic pain conditions. There has been a tremendous amount of research dictating the effectiveness of alternative therapies for chronic pain management. The purpose of this review is to provide a comprehensive evidence-based update of alternative therapy used for the management of chronic pain conditions.

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