When to choose integrative therapies
There are several reasons to add appropriate integrative therapies to your pain treatment plan. Some of them include:
- To have more control. When you hurt, you want to take action. If your only source of pain relief is a prescription medication, however, the only action you can take is to wait for the next dose. Integrative therapies give you more strategies for pain relief, and they can be available when you need them.
- To help manage the side effects of your pain medications. Prescription pain relievers are often accompanied by side effects, such as drowsiness, nausea or constipation. Integrative therapies can help alleviate side effects.
- To address issues related to your pain. Pain will often affect your mood and leave you feeling tense and tired. Integrative therapies can help you reverse those undesirable outcomes.
- Your health care professional recommends them. Many health care professionals are now combining integrative therapies with conventional medical therapies.
What conditions respond to integrative therapies?
Many integrative therapies can be successfully joined with conventional medicine to help relieve pain. Research has shown that integrative therapies can be effective in relieving many types of pain, including the following conditions:
- Back and neck pain
- Arthritis and joint pain
- Pain resulting from injury or trauma
- Post-surgery pain
- Headache pain
- Pelvic pain and menstrual cramps
Addressing the whole person
Integrative therapies are unique in that they address the whole person. Instead of just treating the source of the pain, integrative medicine takes a whole-body approach.
Most integrative therapies target both mind and body to help reduce pain. A good example is yoga, which quiets and relaxes the mind while stretching and strengthening the body. Practicing yoga might not directly relieve the source of your pain, but it can relax your body, loosen tense muscles, refresh your mind and mentally prepare you to better manage your discomfort.
Oct. 31, 2017
- Millman M, et al., eds. General symptoms. In: Mayo Clinic Guide to Self-Care. 6th ed. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2010.
- Bruce BK, et al., eds. Caring for yourself. In: Mayo Clinic Guide to Pain Relief. 2nd ed. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2013.
- Schulenburg J. Considerations for complementary and alternative interventions for pain. AORN. 2015;101:319.
- Rosenquiest EWK, et al. Overview of the treatment of chronic non-cancer pain. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Sept. 17, 2017.
- Bauer BA, ed. The best of both worlds. In: Mayo Clinic Book of Alternative Medicine. 2nd ed. Rochester, Minn: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2010.
- Bruce BK, ed. Complementary medicine. In: Mayo Clinic Solutions for Living with Chronic Pain. New York, N.Y.: Oxmoor House; 2016.
- Cho YH, et al. Acupuncture for acute postoperative pain after back surgery: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Pain Practice. 2015;15:279.
- Lee JH, et al. Acupuncture for acute low back pain: A systematic review. Clinical Journal of Pain. 2013;29:172.
- Liu XL, et al. Acupuncture-point stimulation for postoperative pain control: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2015;2015:1.
- Wu PI, et al. Nonpharmacologic options for treating acute and chronic pain. PM&R. 2015;7:S278.
- Bauer BA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 6, 2017.