The Benefits of Integrative Medicine in the Management of Chronic Pain: A Review

Author: Hirak Trivedi1, Tara A Avrit1, Leah Chan2, De Mauria Burchette1, Rajni Rathore3
1 Medical Student, Saint James School of Medicine, Arnos Vale, VCT.
2 School of Medicine, Saint James School of Medicine, Anguilla, AIA.
3 Medical Education, Saint James School of Medicine, Arnos Vale, VCT.
Conference/Journal: Cureus
Date published: 2022 Oct 5
Other: Volume ID: 14 , Issue ID: 10 , Pages: e29963 , Special Notes: doi: 10.7759/cureus.29963. , Word Count: 241

Chronic pain is a debilitating condition that affects many individuals throughout their daily lives. While it is common to treat chronic pain with pharmaceutical treatments, an approach that has also shown great benefits is the use of integrative medicine, such as massage therapy, osteopathic and spinal manipulation, acupuncture, and yoga. The keywords "integrative medicine," "pain," "chronic pain," and "pain management" with the use of the Boolean operators "AND," "OR," and "NOT" were used to identify relevant studies discussing the effectiveness of alternative medicine in the treatment of chronic pain. Massage therapy uses different forms of pressing, rubbing, and moving of muscles and other soft tissues, and has shown short-term benefits for chronic pain relief. Osteopathic and spinal manipulation is mainly used in treating muscles, tendons, and bone pain due to worn-out joints, torn ligaments, and more. Acupuncture involves penetrating the skin with thin needles which are activated through gentle and specific movements. According to our review, acupuncture and massage therapy are effective for short-term treatment, lasting three to five months for chronic pain. Yoga involves various physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines that have shown beneficial results in the treatment of chronic pain. Combining yoga with physical therapy has shown significant benefits. This review aims to describe the benefits and uses of integrative medicine in the treatment of chronic pain.

Keywords: acupuncture; alternative medical therapies; chronic pain management; opioid abuse; osteopathic manipulative medicine; yoga therapy.

PMID: 36381700 PMCID: PMC9635890 DOI: 10.7759/cureus.29963